Aug 01, 2013

Southern Mongolia: Environmental Damage Caused By Mining Activity

A new report has claimed that a Chinese state-owned mining firm's operations in Southern Mongolia are depleting groundwater levels and polluting water sources with toxic waste.

Below is an article published by The Guardian:


A project operated by China's largest coal miner, Shenhua Group, has reduced groundwater levels in an Inner Mongolia region and discharged high levels of toxic wastewater, environmental campaign group Greenpeace said on Tuesday [30 July 2013].


The report, the first by Greenpeace to single out and publicly challenge one of China's powerful state-owned companies, comes as the country's new leadership steps up its focus on pollution amid growing protests over environmental degradation.


China recently cancelled plans to build a $6bn (£4bn) uranium processing plant after hundreds of protestors took to the streets. Other petrochemical projects have also been cancelled after mass demonstrations.


Shenhua's coal-to-liquid pilot close to Ordos city is one of three such projects operating in China. It has drained more than 50m tonnes of groundwater from the Haolebaoji region since 2006, Greenpeace said in the report.


"We are taking these allegations very seriously and we will start our own investigations into the project to ensure that it meets all environment-related regulations," a spokeswoman from Shenhua Group said. "We will release our own environmental report on the project after the investigation."


The Greenpeace investigation, which the group said was based on 11 field trips to the Shenhua project from March to July this year, found high levels of toxic chemicals in discharged wastewater. It said many other carcinogenic compounds were identified in sediment samples.


"Shenhua claims its coal-to-liquid project has 'low water consumption' and 'zero discharge'. Our investigation proves these claims are false," Greenpeace east Asia campaigner Deng Ping said. "Shenhua's practices are violating Chinese water resource principles and laws controlling industrial waste water discharge."


The Ordos city government has also claimed damage caused by Shenhua's coal-to-liquid project in two notices published on its website, pointing to reduced groundwater levels, irrigation problems, and a lack of safe drinking water for residents. It cited petitions from residents and warned of the threat to social harmony, recommending the relocation of farmers and compensation for water losses.