MAC: Mines and Communities

Miner against The Wall in China

Published by MAC on 2009-11-16
Source: AP, Xinhua (2009-11-11)

It's far from uncommon for miners to destroy important archeological sites. (See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org//article.php?a=2112).

Now,  a Chinese gold mining company is being investigated for allegedly damaging the Great Wall of China, one of the acknowledged  Wonders of the World.

It seems the 'barbarians' are not only at the gates, but under at the walls...

Gold mining firm probed after destruction of Great Wall

Xinhua

11 November 2009

HOHHOT -- China's central government and the police in north China's Inner Mongolia Region are jointly investigating allegations that a mining company has destroyed 100 meters of an ancient section of the Great Wall.

Police in Hohhot City, capital of Inner Mongolia, were making inquiries and China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage had sent a team to investigate the site, said Wang Dafang, director of the region's cultural relics department Wednesday.

Hohhot Kekao Mining Co. was alleged to have knocked two holes through the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.) Great Wall while prospecting for gold.

The holes, covering a total area of 300 square meters and five meters deep, were dug through the Great Wall on a mountain in the city's Pogendi Village, Wang said. "The damage is irreparable."

The company ignored five orders to halt operations from the regional government and continued the vandalism, Wang said.

The Great Wall was begun by Emperor Qin (259-210 B.C.), who first united China, to prevent incursions by northern tribes. It was strengthened by later emperors and extended from 8,852 km to comprise several different walls with a total length of 50,000 km.

One-third of the Great Wall has been destroyed by centuries of erosion, a situation that has been exacerbated by continuing vandalism.

Miners, road construction workers and villagers collecting building materials have contributed to the ongoing destruction along the 15,000-km Great Wall in Inner Mongolia, and the great length made it difficult to stop them, Wang said.

Wang called for efforts to promote awareness of the less magnificent Great Wall in Inner Mongolia. "Some parts of the Great Wall are low and are built of stone and earth. But they are equally valuable," Wang said.

Damaging the state key cultural relic site is punishable by a fine of up to 500,000 yuan or a jail term of up to 10 years.

Five miners received jail terms of one to three years in Inner Mongolia last year for damaging a section of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Great Wall while using heavy machinery. To date, they are the only people to be jailed for damaging the Great Wall.


China mining co. accused of damaging Great Wall

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN (AP)

11 November 2009

BEIJING — A Chinese gold mining company is being investigated for causing serious damage to one of the oldest sections of the Great Wall of China.

Hohhot Kekao Mining Co. is suspected of destroying about 330 feet (100 meters) of the wall while prospecting in Inner Mongolia to the northwest of Beijing, the head of the regional cultural relics bureau, Wang Dafang, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The bureau originally discovered the damage in September and ordered the company to stop, but inspectors returned later and found work had resumed, Wang said.

Investigators are now collecting evidence and plan to bring charges, Wang said. If found guilty, company officials could face up to 10 years in prison depending on the degree of damage, he said.

The damaged section of the wall dates from the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.) and is far lower and less grand than the better-known and heavily visited portions on the outskirts of Beijing.

"Some people think the only part of the Great Wall that needs to be protected is in Beijing," Wang said. "Although the Inner Mongolia wall is more modest, it carries the same significance."

Directory assistance could find no listed phone number for Hohhot Kekao Mining Co.

Built to keep out raids by northern tribes and extended by successive dynasties over 2,000 years, the Great Wall now faces threats from mining, road building, commercial development and villagers who plunder it for building materials.

Laws have been passed to prevent damage to the wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that runs for roughly 6,300 kilometers (4,000 miles) across northern China from the Bohai Gulf to the Gobi Desert.

Last year, five miners were jailed for up to three years for damaging the Inner Mongolia wall while using heavy machinery, the only people to be jailed under the preservation laws to date.

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