At the end of the 1960s, an Indian prospector discovered a deposit of zinc and lead on the slopes of the Ganesh Himal. A 7,000er from Nepal located north of Kathmandu, between Langtang National Park and the Manaslu area. In a region with a rich soil where you can find silver, zinc and even ruby, among others. It took almost 30 years for this discovery to turn into a mining project. The Nepalese army was then mandated to open up the mine. They started a major project and a 100km of road were built within two years. Nearly 300 employees were then hired to get the mine up and running and extract zinc and lead.
A mining project stopped by the civil war
But the civil war happened. For nearly 10 years, supporters of the monarchy and Maoist rebels clashed. It was impossible under these conditions to run the production and the mine was finally closed in the early 2000s. The 300 workers quickly left the area. But a dozen or so remained. While the company closed, it was owned by the Nepalese state. The few employees still there therefore receive a salary. They take turns guarding the site to avoid possible looting. All mine equipment remained as it was. Almost 15 years after the mine closed, these employees are still waiting for a possible restart that does not appear to be on the horizon.
They have been waiting for fifteen years
An employee told the Himalayan Times: “We’ve been living in this building all these years by bracing cold. We are still hopeful that the company will resume operation”. In 2015, the earthquake damaged the premises, and no one thought of those guards. Two years later, the desire to restart the business had been mentioned in the Nepalese press, but this desire changed nothing.
At 3,300 meters high, these guards are desperately waiting.
Waiting for the work to resume or to be relieved of their duties.
Credits – view of the Ganesh Himal © Sherparinji CC BY-SA 3.0