More than 100 Tibetans from five nomadic villages have staged a protest against a Chinese mining concern in Dardsedo (in Chinese, Kangding) county in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, fearing more environmental damage after the company resumed operations, Tibetan sources with knowledge of the situation said.
Protesters from the county’s Lhagang, Nangkor, Naglung, Kunmang and Nang nomadic villages in the Yulshok Gargye region in Minyak (Minya) county of southwest China’s Sichuan province demanded on May 4 that Lhagang Kargye Kha cease mining activities which it began in the area last month, a Tibetan source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“When the company prepared to resume operations, it released old, poisonous water from the mine, which drained into the Lung [Luchu] River and killed many fish,” he said.
The number of protestors and armed police then increased in the area the following day, Tibetan sources said.
Many protesters had lain down on the Kangding-Kardze highway and blocked traffic to protest against the lithium mining activities, the first source said.
“The Tibetan protesters were surrounded by security forces, but they did not attack the protesters,” the source said.
On May 6, authorities from Kardze prefecture and Kangding county arrived at the site and appealed to them to end their protest and stop disrupting traffic, said another Tibetan source, adding that the protesters withdrew the same day.
“The authorities convened a meeting where they tried to convince the community that the land is owned by the government and that the mining operations are a government decision,” the first source said.
“The local community has no right to stop it,” he said. “But if the people need water and electricity, the authorities have promised to provide those services to the local community.”
The mining project was previously blocked in 2005, the same year that Lhagang Kargye Kha had registered as a concern in Kangding county, after Tibetan villagers protested against the company for polluting the Lung River and killing fish, a report on the Tibetan news site Phayul.com said.
Activities at the mine were suspended again in 2013 after local residents presented credible evidence of damage to the fish population in nearby rivers, another Tibetan source said.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin and Chakmo Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.