Grasslands of Bathang County unsafe for livestock due to mining

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bathang county (Tibetan: འབའ་ཐང་; Chinese: 巴塘县) gets its name from Tibetan, meaning the vast grassland where one can hear sheep everywhere. "Ba" refers to the sound made by sheep, and "Thang" means plains or grasslands (as in "Tsa-Thang"). However, Washington Post has published a story today that says that the grasslands are not safe for the sheep anymore due to gold and copper mining in the region. Here are two quotes from the article:

Their sheep die when they drink tainted water flowing from the mine, or lick crushed ore left on the hillside, villagers say. Now there are reports that the mine will open another cave this year in the upper grassland above Dorje's home. "We are trying to think of every possible way to stop this. If we have to, we will carry stones and wood sticks to block the entrance as soon as [the miners] begin to dig again," he said.

"Last year, eight of my yaks died. They just fell down, foaming at the mouth," said Gompo Dondrup, a nomad and farmer in Bathang county in western Sichuan province, whose family has lost more than 60 percent of its herd. "At first we didn't know why. Later, the veterinarians told us it was because of the mine. We protested, but the mine continues to operate. They said they gave compensation to the government, but the government never gave us any."

Read the full Washington Post article here .

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