In spring 2009 the Chinese mining firm, Zhongkai Co., has been authorized to excavate the area, Ser Ngol Lo, planned for gold mine in Tsangshul sub-district (Lhara Village, Markham County, Chamdo Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region's). In Tibetan Ser Ngol Lo means ‘Year of Gold and Silver’. It is a place which locals consider a sacred mountain and that they have historically worshiped, conducting rituals in the event of drought .
Consequently, the native population began to protest with a peaceful occupation of the area by hundreds of Tibetans.
The authorities responded by sending in armed security forces, up to 300 armed policemen, according to Radio Free Asia.
Residents protested blocking the access to the area even though the authorities insist on excavating the mountain .
Pema Thinley, vice chairman of the Tibetan Communist Party, was sent to Markham to try to convince the local population to accept the mine as well, but without success. In fact the residents continued their demonstration, and Pema Thinley was escorted back to Lhasa, the regional capital .
On 16 May, a contingent of police and security forces arrived, but as many as 500 Tibetans blocked the road leading to the planned mine. Since then they have been there night and day, whilst the Chinese stayed at a nearby school .
A local Tibetan said security forces had cut off the protesters from the rest of the village. In fact the man said “They blocked all phones and even cellphones aren’t reachable”; “We can’t reach any of the protesters. Today another four vehicles with roughly 30 to 40 soldiers in them went to the protest site. But the Tibetans all put religious books on their heads and are vowing to resist . An other resident said “that they are ready to die to protect the sacred hill”.
The standoff has been going on for several months, more or less three or four months until June 8, 2009 when both sides agreed that the mine would cease operations . A local Tibetan man, speaking on condition of anonymity said: "It was agreed in writing that there will be no mining in the area"; "All the Chinese security forces deployed in the area will be withdrawn. The Tibetans who are blocking the road will also return to their respective areas"; "Chinese authorities will build concrete barriers to block the poisonous residue of earlier mining in the area so that this will not filter down into the drinking water" . All points of agreement were set down in writing in the presence of prefecture- and county-level officials, and the area was quiet.
But disagreement remained on the question of handling poisonous waste from the site. In fact a Markham Public Security Bureau officer said: "The government has offered to clean the whole area, but the Tibetans want to hold [the residue] as evidence. So it was decided that the Tibetans will hire a professional group from China to examine it, and the government will assign the TAR Environmental Protection Department to carry out its own examination." The matter will be referred back to officials at the county, prefecture, and TAR levels if it cannot be finally resolved, he said.