China says environmentally devastating illegal coal mining in Qinghai allowed to continue from 2006

An opencast coal mine belonging to the Qinghai Kingho Coal Group. (Photo courtesy: Wu Haitao/Greenpeace)

(, Sep02’20) – Illegal coal mining has been going on in the Qilian Mountains in Muli town of Haixi Prefecture, Qinghai Province, since 2006, reported China’s official Sep 1, suggesting that there is nothing to stop such environmentally devastating exploitation of mineral resources in Chinese ruled Tibet until the situation becomes so serious as to render government intervention unavoidable. Qinghai province has now initiated a three-year plan to repair the environment in the Qilian Mountains, the report said.

Chinese media reported last month that the local Xingqing company had been excessively mining a coal field in Muli town since 2006. More than 25 million metric tons of coal had been mined by the company under the guise of ecological restoration, creating around 15 billion yuan ($2.19 billion) of profit, the report said.

The report noted that the Qilian Mountains, standing on the border of Gansu and Qinghai provinces, were designated a nature reserve in 1988. The Muli coal mine, which neighbours the mountains, is stated to be Qinghai’s only site with rich coal resources.

The Qinghai provincial government was reported to have announced the action plan on Aug 31. The plan is to be implemented over the next three years in Muli and the neighbouring regions suffering from environmental destruction.

The report said that in the past two decades, many illegal mining projects and hydropower stations had sprung up as a result of lax supervision in the Qilian Mountains, inflicting significant damage on the environment.

It was not clear why such openly, massively destructive operations could go on even with lax supervision given the length of time for which it has continued.

The report said that after the illegal mining in Muli was reported in August, a special inspection team led by the province’s vice-governor was sent to Muli. The Haixi prefecture government, where the mine is located, was also stated to have sent a special team to investigate.

The report said two top officials of Haixi prefecture were removed from their posts for dereliction of supervision duty on illicit mining on Aug 9. It added that another three officials from local supervision departments in Haixi had also been removed from office and put under investigation.


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