Tibetan nomads have driven Chinese gold miners away from a sacred mountain in China’s Qinghai province, vowing to give up their lives if necessary to protect the site, the abode of a local god, according to Tibetan sources.
They set fire to the gold miners’ tents and launched 24-hour patrols around the mountain located in the Tibetan-populated Gade county in the Golog (in Chinese, Guolo) prefecture in a bid to keep the gold miners at bay, the sources said.
“The nomads are now watching for intruders on the mountain,” a Tibetan living in the U.S. told RFA, citing contacts in the region and speaking on condition of anonymity.
The mountain, called Dringye Ngo Sorma, is known for the beauty of the lake at its base, for the green meadows on its slopes, and for other characteristics “typical of a sacred mountain,” the source said.
“The deity that lives on the mountain is believed to be very ferocious and powerful,” he added.
On Aug. 10, Chinese miners arrived in the valley at the foot of the mountain and made plans to extract gold from the valley, the source said.
And though local government officials warned Tibetan residents of the area not to interfere with the work, the gold miners’ tents were set on fire two days later.
“The authorities could not detain the persons involved in the burning, as they had all escaped and gone into hiding,” the source said.
On Aug. 14, Tibetans from the four nomadic groups in the area of Tsangkor Sholma gathered at the mountain, but the Chinese miners had by then fled from the area, the source said.
“So the Tibetans conducted a grand smoke-offering ceremony at the site and then went back to their homes.”
Two nomadic groups are now watching the lower valley of Dringye Ngo Sorma, while another two groups guard the valley of another mountain, Kyu Ri, the source said, adding, “So now the Tibetans are watching these valleys around the clock, both day and night.”
Tibetan residents of the area have refused all orders to let the mining work proceed and have vowed not to allow the extraction of “even one handful of soil” from the sacred mountain, the source said.
Mining operations in Tibetan regions have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of disrupting sites of spiritual significance and polluting the environment as they extract local wealth.
On Aug. 15, Chinese security forces shot dead a Tibetan and detained six others as they dispersed a crowd of 1,000 Tibetans protesting the resumption of mining operations in Markham county in Tibet, according to Tibetan sources.
Last year, China’s official media reported that investment in the exploration of mineral resources in the Tibet Autonomous Region will be accelerated over a five-year period.
Tibet has large proven and potential reserves of vital deposits, but little exploration has been done so far, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Initial studies show that the Tibet Autonomous Region has China’s largest chromium and copper reserves, while most of its iron, gold, silver, potassium, oil, and natural gas reserves remain unexplored, the report said.
Reported by Chakmo Tso for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.