Early in the morning of March 29, 2013, a major landslide engulfed a worker’s camp of China Gold International’s Jiama copper-gold mine 68 km northeast of Lhasa, Tibet. A total of 83 workers were buried under the rubble, and 66 bodies were recovered within a week of the disaster. No survivors were found. The mineworkers buried in the landslide were employed by four external independent contractors engaged by Tibet Huatailong Mining Development Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Gold International.
The workers were housed in tents in a camp located about 10 km from the Jiama mine site. The slide originated at the top of a valley above the camp. The crown of the slide was 5,359 m above sea level, and the toe was at 4,535 m, a drop of 824 m. Investigators attributed the slide to complicated local geological structures and meltwater seepage that weakened the geotechnical competence of the mountain side.
The mine site was not impacted by the slide, and there was no evidence that mining operations had directly contributed to the initiation of the slide.
China Gold International is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is listed on the Toronto and Hong Kong stock exchanges. State-owned China National Gold Group, China’s largest gold producer, is its largest shareholder, with an approximate interest of 39%. About 40% of the shares are publicly held.
The Jiama mine is a surface copper-molybdenum-gold-silver-lead-zinc mine with current processing capacity of about 6,000 mt/d. Commercial production began in September 2010. A prefeasibility study completed in October 2012 proposes an expansion to 40,000 mt/d, with ore drawn from both surface and underground mining operations.