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Dalai Lama Tells Canadian Gold Diggers in Tibet to Hit It

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 05/02/15; February 15, 2005.]

by Judi McLeod, Canadafreepress.com

February 15, 2005

The high profile Dalai Lama may be able to do something for Canadian taxpayers that no one else is doing: force public attention to the bustling business deals springing up between China and Canada.

The Chinese governmentıs interest in the acquisition of Toronto-based Noranda Mines is well known.

That two Canadian mining firms are in the Dalai Lamaıs bad books for having plans that could irreversibly damage the ecology of the Tibetan plateau is not so well known.

The companies­Continental Minerals of Vancouver and Inter-Citic of Toronto--had taken up invitations by China to prospect for gold and copper in its western region.

But while that part of the world may be considered China to the Chinese government, to the Dalai Lama itıs the same Tibet, for which he seeks autonomy.

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the people of Tibet in exile. In a report from its base in Dharamsala India, the government said the 2.5 million square kilometer of Tibetan landmass targeted for mining is home to major rivers flowing through China and the rest of Asia.

The Canadian government takes a leading role in the Kyoto Protocol. Indeed the architect of Kyoto is Canadian Maurice Strong, mentor to Prime Minister Paul Martin.

The report by the Environment and Development Desk of the Central Tibetan administration, reminds Canadians that indiscriminate mining in the Tibetan plateau will also impact local and climatic patterns.

It quotes an environmental expert as saying: "In Tibet we canıt do what other provinces (of China) did­first destroying the environment then fixing it. Tibetıs environment is more fragile, we have to protect it from the start because it might not recover otherwise."

The plan in the Tibetan plateau is part of Chinaıs "Go West" campaign to reduce the yawning chasm between its rich eastern coastal provinces and the western hinterlands.

In order to make it happen, China is wooing foreign investment, including junior mining firms and selling thousands of prospecting rights through bids, auctions and other public means.

But the Dalai Lama jealously guards Tibet in exile.

Heading up the race to dig are Canada and Australia.

"Two Canada-based companies have entered into an `option agreementı, which according to our knowledge might not be recognized by the Chinese law," the report contends.

"It nevertheless highlights the keenness on the part of minor mining companies to get a foothold in China in anticipation of the opening of Chinaıs mining industry."

But the principal of one of the two Canadian mining companies planning to prospect indicates going to the Tibet plateau is as good as a done deal.

Ronald Thiessen, President and CEO of the Vancouver-based Continental Minerals Corporations states on his website that the agreement for the Xietongmen Gold-Copper property has been finalized and has received Canadian and Chinese regulatory approvals.

Exploration is to begin this year at the site located 240 kilometers southwest of Lhasa in Tibet.

Meanwhile, the Toronto-based Inter-Citic Minerals Inc. says on its website that it has an exclusive focus on gold exploration and development opportunities in China.

Involved in a joint venture with Chinaıs Qinghai Geological Survey Institute, the company has interest in the Dachang Gold Mine, which is in Chumarleb County, in Yushu, Tibet.

China considers Tibet as an integral part of its territory.

As far as the Nobel laureate Dalai Lama is concerned, gold digging should take a second seat to saving the environment.

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