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Thousands oppose mining application in N. Taiwan

New grassroots alliance says Yilan mine plans could pollute vital water resources and endanger local population

UDN photo.

UDN photo.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Water Source Conservation Anti-Mining Action Alliance was formally established on Friday (Nov. 8) in Yilan City, with 25,000 people signing up to protect the northeastern county’s water resources.

Representatives of the alliance said they hope 50,000 people will have joined them by the end of the month, with an ultimate target of 100,000. Aiming to attract the government’s attention to environmental protection, the alliance has put forward four demands, according to CNA.

Yongan Industrial (永侒實業公司) applied to begin mining silica rock (a raw material of glass) and kaolinite on Daan Lushan, just a couple of kilometers from Yilan's city center. The application has been strongly opposed by residents from across the political spectrum living within the city and in nearby Zhonghua Township, according to Liberty Times.

In order to push back against mine development and the associated destruction of woodland, the alliance initiated its collaborative effort, receiving the support of over 25,000 people in one month, according to UDN. Yongan Industrial has not commented on the grassroots resistance to its plans.

The alliance said that if the Yongan application proceeds, the company's activities will not only significantly damage the health of local residents but also pollute the environment long into the future. Waste products from the mining operation could also affect the safety of drinking water in northern Yilan.

The first of the alliance’s four demands is that the EPA withdraw the mining company’s application. The second is that the Ministry of Economic Affairs' (MEA) Mining Bureau review Yongan’s right to mine in accordance with the Yilan National Land Project.

Thirdly, the group urges the Yilan County Government to control and protect mountain, water, and groundwater areas. Fourthly, it appeals to the Taiwan Water Corporation and the MEA’s Water Resources Agency to deal with local water safety issues and design water conservation areas.

The alliance said that Yongan’s plan would allocate 33.5 hectares of Daan Lushan for mining. Yongan plans to mine 727,000 metric tons of silica rock and kaolinite each year for 36 years, according to UDN.