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Yulong Copper Mine in Tibet to be operational

August 22, 2008

Dharamshala: People’s Daily Online, 15 August 2008, reported that Yulong Copper Mine in Tibet will start operating from September this year. Environment and Development Desk (EDD) of the Central Tibetan Administration is deeply concerned about the environmental and social implications of the project on the Tibetan plateau and its people. Yulong Copper Mine in Jomda (Ch: Jiangda) County, Chamdo (Ch: Qamdo) Prefecture, “TAR”, is among the largest mines of its kind in the world with an area of 1,870 sq km. The mine is notably the second largest mine in Asia with a proven deposit of 6.5 million tonnes of copper in ore form and another 10 million tonnes of prospective reserves.
It is expected to produce 2,000 tons of refined copper in 2008 and the company hopes to expand the production capacity to 100,000 tons a year eventually, cites People’s Daily Online. Yulong copper mine is predominantly owned by Zijin Mining Group and Western Mining, both of which are China’s major mining and Development Company. The operation of the mine has been delayed since the 1990s due to the remoteness of the place and its weak supporting infrastructures for the mining industry. However, Yang Qianrang, an industrial planning official with the regional economic commission, said that the Tibet Yulong Copper Co. Ltd. has finished building the basic infrastructure, as well as staff recruitment and training, roads and housing for the miners etc. A power station was built on the Mekong River (Tib: Zachu) in Dragyab (Ch: Chaya) county of Chamdo Prefecture, to generate electricity for the extraction of Yulong copper deposit.
The scale of mining in Tibet has been increasing primarily with China’s rapid industrialization and urbanization programs. Yulong copper mine will reduce China’s dependence on import of copper from other countries. The unprecedented extraction of mineral resources in Tibet over the years has immensely benefited the Chinese. With several new mining projects underway such as this, severe environmental consequences for the region is bound to occur, especially on its water resources which flow down to several other countries. Although, it is true that the development of mineral resources is inevitable for the overall development of Tibet’s economy, but it is all the more imperative to save the fragile ecology of the Tibetan plateau and meet the needs of the Tibetan people in a sustainable way. EDD makes the following recommendations to all concerned individuals, organizations and corporations:
To ensure safety and prevent environmental damage, an Environmental Impact Assessment should be conducted and be made available for public viewing. Environmental NGOs in China, including State Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) should strictly supervise and monitor all the mining activities to mitigate environmental damage. Tibetans should be regarded as a key stakeholder. Benefits from the mining should go to the Tibetans through jobs, social welfare schemes, social securities etc.
We urge all corporations working with and for the Yulong Copper Mine to follow the guidelines for sustainable development projects, proposed by the Central Tibetan Administration.

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