Dharamshala — Chinese authorities have used intimidation and threats of force to block attempts by local Tibetans to save a sacred mountain from uranium mining at Dringwa Township in Dzoge County of Ngaba, north-eastern Tibet.
On August 10 a mining team sent by the Chinese government proceeded to start mining at Drakzong, a sacred mountain in Dringwa, (Ch: Zhanwa, Ruo'ergai County, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province.)
"A large number of Tibetans gathered at the site to stop the miners," sources said, the local Tibetans explained miners that it was inauspicious to mine at the sacred site and that mining would have disastrous consequences on the environmental stability of the area.
"In response, the miners threatened to call the police for obstructing their work. Despite protests from Tibetans," sources said, adding that "the mining team has already made preparations to start mining uranium; mining machines and equipment have been brought to the site."
Uranium was initially mined mainly for producing nuclear weapons and since the 1960s, for manufacture into nuclear reactor fuel. Being both radioactive and a toxic heavy metal, uranium mining can contaminate air, soil and water.
Drakdzong is a sacred mountain considered as the dwelling place of Amnye Drakdzong, the principle deity revered by local Tibetans in Dringwa. The mountain has two sacred caves that receive a continuous chain of pilgrims throughout the year.
The local Tibetans believe that excavation at this site would bring catastrophes such as epidemics and droughts in the region.
Owing to the local belief system, Tibetans have protected this site since time immemorial without even putting a spade on it. The plan to mine this sacred mountain has plunged local Tibetans deep into worry, fear and uncertainty.