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Copper mining in Tamo, monks and citizens protest, Tibet, China

On November 22, 2010 there was a protest to disrupt mining works from a government mining near Lingka Monastery in Tamo. Many Tibetans were beaten and 15 of them, including 5 monks, were arrested by the Chinese police and someone is still imprisoned.


On November 22, 2010 hundreds of Tibetans attempted to stop mining works from a government-owned mining department, approaching a rich mining site near Lingka Monastery in Tamo, a town located in copper rich Shethongmon district in Shigatse [1]. The protesters, the monks from Lingka Monastery and general public in Tamo, blocked the mining work despite different tactics to lure them by the officials from the mining firm and local administration [2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Copper mining in Tamo, monks and citizens protest, Tibet, China
State or province:Shethongmon district in Shigatse
Location of conflict:Lingka Monastery in Tamo town
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Copper
Project Details and Actors
Project details

At China International Copper Conference 2010, Duan Shaofu, head of the copper department at the Association said that the primary objective of the move will be to increase China’s competitiveness and pricing power in the global commodities market. To increase production, Beijing will encourage miners to step up mineral exploration in the southwest, northeast and Tibet. China wants to develop new mines in Yunnan, Tibet, Jiangxi and Qinghai, said Duan. Local governments have been rationing power to metals producers in response to Beijing’s call to conserve energy and reduce emissions. China has phased out 400,000 tons of outdated copper smelting capacity during the 2006-10 11th five-year plan period” (China to Consolidate Copper Production, Raise Capacity – Exec; Dow Jones Chinese Financial Wire, 2 November 2010)[4].

Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:22/11/2010
Company names or state enterprises:Government-owned mining department from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Tibet: Environment and Development:;
Tibet Watch:;
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Religious groups
Buddhist monks in Tamo monastry
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Other Environmental impacts[5]Green Tibet
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Other socio-economic impactsin the case of tibet, even unskilled manual labor positions created by the mining projects invariably go to the increasing chinese migrants in Tibet. thus excluding tibetans from employment and skills training despite the high number of unemployed local tibetans. This biasedness to migrants has brought negative impacts, such as excessive immigration to the area of mine and economic marginalization of the local tibetans [5].
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:In the province the militarization and police presence increased and the Tibetans citizens, includes the monks, were arrested.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[4] Copper and gold mining in Tibet, Copper and gold mining in Tibet, October 11 2011 by rukor-admin
[click to view]

[5]Green Tibet, Annual Newsletter 2011, Environment and Development Desk
[click to view]

“Environmental Protest on the Tibetan plateau” released by Britain based Tibet Watch, January 2015
[click to view]

[1]Phayul, 15 Tibetans put behind bars over anti-mining protests in Shigatse, February 14 2011
[click to view]

[2]Tibet.Net, Tibetans Jailed for Protesting Rampant Mining in Shigatse, March 3 2012
[click to view]

[3], Protests Against China’s Rampant Mining in Shigatse Continue, 11 February 2011
[click to view] on mining in Tibet
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Myriam Bartolucci, EjAtlas internship researcher, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2284
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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