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Controversy on copper and molybdenum smelting in Shifang, Sichuan, China

Hundreds of demonstrators including many students demonstrated in July 2012 in front of local government institutions against plans to build a molybdenum and copper smelter in Shifang city (Sichuan province). The project was stopped.


Demonstrators against plans to build a Molybdenum-Copper smelter in Shifang city (a city of 430 000 inhabitants, prefecture of Deyang in Sichuan province) gathered between July 1st and 4th in 2012 around streets and in front of local government institutions. Several hundreds of people, high-school and middle-school students had mobilized through micro-blog Weibo and QQ internet applications, marching against the enterprise Sichuan Hongda Group and asking local government for halting the project. Students carried slogans such as: ‘we can sacrifice ourselves, we belong to the post-1990 generation’; ‘Give us back the New Shifang’; ‘Hongda Mo-Co enterprise, get out of Shifang’; ‘To save Shifang, the city is united’ and ‘Protect Shifang’s environment, give us back our beautiful homeland’. Some demonstrators demanded the Local Secretary Li Chengjin to resign and abandon Shifang.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Controversy on copper and molybdenum smelting in Shifang, Sichuan, China
State or province:Shichuan
Location of conflict:Shifang - Northwest area within the Economic Development Zone in Shifang
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral processing
Metal refineries
Specific commodities:Copper
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Total annual output of 40,000 tons of Molybdenum and 400,000 tons of copper were expected for this projected plan

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Project area:223
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:26/06/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Sichuan Hongda Group (四川宏达股份有限公司) from China
Relevant government actors:Shifang city local government
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Students (high-school and middle-school)
Forms of mobilization:Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsIndustrial waste
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Militarization and increased police presence
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Yes, although not without suffering by local people
Why? The project was finally stopped by mass mobilization pressing local authorities, who finally accepted to halt the project, but there were detentions, injured demonstrators.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Local Governments and Policy Responses: The Case of Shifang Protest by Hejin Wang. A thesis presented to the University of Waterloo in fulfilment of the thesis requirement for the degree of Master of Arts in Political Science. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 2013. © Hejin Wang 2013.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[4] Article in The Guardian
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[2] 群体性事件的情感社会学分析—以什邡钼铜项目事件为例。 孙静。2013。

Wikipedia account in English
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Anti-pollution protesters halt construction of copper plant in China. Construction of a molybdenum copper plant temporarily stopped after thousands protest in Shifang, south-west China (The Guardian)
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[3] Wikipedia in Chinese
[click to view]

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Last update18/10/2016
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