Students for Free Tibet Canada’s mining campaign coordinator Jigme Duntak confronted Vancouver-based China Gold International Resources Corp. Ltd's Vice President Jerry Xie about the mining company's operations in Gyama township, near Tibet's capital city Lhasa.
At the China Gold investor meeting at Hilton Hotel in Toronto Thursday, Duntak raised concerns about the company’s disregard for the local people and the environment. He questioned the lack of social risk assessment of the mining operations in Gyama and pointed that the mine has caused environmental degradation, local water supply contamination and poisoning of domestic animals.
“Canadian mining companies cannot responsibly mine in Tibet as long as Tibetans don't have the right to determine the best use of their natural resources,” said Duntak, who is a Tibetan-Canadian.
Jerry Xie dismissed the concerns and said 45% of the workforce at Gyama mining is local Tibetan people and that their GDP has grown over the years.
Tibetan and Tibetan supporters protested outside the meeting to voice their opposition of China Gold’s mining engagements in Gyama.
On June 20, 2009, Tibetans in Gyama protested a water-diversion project that would redirect the Gyama Shingchu River to the mine site, destroying farmland and cutting off the local water supply.
The situation in Gyama remains tense considering the historical importance of this area for Tibetans as the birthplace of the Tibetan emperor, Songsten Gampo.
There has been an increase in the number of protests regarding mining projects over the last decade.