Myanmar Mine Project Resumes but Fails to Meet Requirements

Letpadaung Mine Project Resumes but Fails to Meet Lawmakers’ Requirements

Letpadaung, copper mine, Myanmar, Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, Sagaing, Wanbao, Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is seen during her visit to the Letpadaung copper mine in March 2013. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

MANDALAY — The Letpadaung copper mining project has resumed operations in northwest Burma without meeting requirements set by lawmakers, according to a member of a parliamentary commission that set the requirements.

Khin San Hlaing was part of a commission led by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi that investigated the suspended project earlier this year and filed a report with a list of conditions for its resumption. The project restarted earlier this month, but she says it has not met requirements for transparency, specifically in relation to its impact on public health and the environment.

“The mining company is obviously disobeying and going beyond what we suggested in the report by resuming their mining process without proving that they have complied with the report,” said the lawmaker, who is part of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

“We have still not heard about the new contract, or whether the process is moving forward with approval for the EIA [environmental impact assessment] and the HIA [health impact assessment]. We keep asking them to present the documents and facts to the public, but they are still silent, which means there is no full transparency. Problems with the farmers will continue unless they work transparently.”

She added that requirements have also not been met to compensate farmers for lost land.

The mining project in Sagaing Division—a joint venture between China’s Wanbao and a Burmese military-backed company—was suspended in November after a brutal police crackdown on protesters. Suu Kyi’s commission investigated the project after the crackdown and recommended that the mining company resume operations only after taking steps to ease the adverse educational, social and environmental effects on local residents.

Under a new contract signed this year, the Burma government took a 51 percent stake in the mining project, while the military-backed Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd (UMEHL) accepted a 30 percent stake and Wanbao a 19 percent stake.

Despite continuing protests, the mining project resumed earlier this month, with a fence being erected around disputed land that bars farmers and their flocks of animals from entering. The fence starts in Tone village and reaches the base of the Leik Kun Mountain, and farmers say it has destroyed over 100 acres of land they were using to grow sesame and other crops.

Earlier this month, hundreds of farmers near the mine site went to a liaison office opened by the parliamentary commission’s implementation committee, located at New Hse Tae and Zee Taw village, to urge the mining company not to resume work. They met with the divisional minister for forestry and mining, Than Htike.

Last week, as operations continued despite the complaints, farmers marched out to the disputed land to stop the fencing.

“When we met recently with Minister Than Htike at the liaison office, he assured us that the mining company would not work yet on our land, for which we have not yet received compensation,” Win Htay, a farmer from Hse Tae village, said with a cry. “But now the company has initiated a fencing process and our land has been taken. They are liars and they take us as illiterates.”

Compensation has been offered to the farmers, but many have refused it.

“We have not taken the compensation because this money will soon be gone, and it will not secure our future,” said Daw Nwae, another farmer from Hse Tae. “They said they would give us jobs at the project, but how can we depend on that low salary? We surely will not receive a high-ranking job, but rather very basic work that we are unfamiliar with. We know nothing apart from planting crops.”

She added, “If compensation has changed someone’s life, why don’t they show that person as an example? It [compensation] is just a PR attempt by the mining company.”

Khin San Hlaing of the parliamentary commission said authorities were concerned about the refusal of some farmers to accept compensation.

“There are a lot of questions about why these farmers are not taking compensation,” she said. “The mining company and the authorities need to think about providing long-term assurances for the livelihoods of farmers who lost the land which they have worked on for generations.

“Since there’s no transparency from the mining companies and the authorities, plans for the livelihoods of farmers are still unknown. As they have not been assured, the farmers refused to take the compensation. If the mining company really understood and really cared about the lives of the locals and the farmers, they would not move forward like this.”


6 Responses to Letpadaung Mine Project Resumes but Fails to Meet Lawmakers’ Requirements

  1. This shocking photo (the so-called “democratic icon” Suu Kyi letting herself be manipulated by the cunning Chinese to “endorse” the total devastation of the environment and the destruction of the livelihood of the local population) is one of the main reasons I personally will never return to live in Burma, my birthplace. I certainly don’t want to live or even die in a vassal state controlled and exploited by the greedy Chinese together with their stupid stooges, bribed business tycoons and corrupt cronies.

    • You will be running out places to live if you completely avoid countries that deal with ‘greedy’ Chinese. Didn’t the chinese purchase a huge stake in the oil sand of your adopted country Canada?

  2. This shocking photo (the so-called “democratic icon” Suu Kyi letting herself be manipulated by the cunning Chinese to “endorse” the total devastation of the environment and the destruction of the livelihood of the local population) is one of the main reasons I personally will never return to live in Burma, my birthplace. I certainly don’t want to live or even die in a vassal state controlled and exploited by the greedy Chinese together with their stupid stooges, bribed business tycoons and corrupt cronies.

    • You will be running out places to live if you completely avoid countries that deal with ‘greedy’ Chinese. Didn’t the chinese purchase a huge stake in the oil sand of your adopted country Canada?

  3. Do you have any solution for the problem related Letpadaung copper mining project?

    The Letpadaung copper mine is already producing copper and other minerals. The Company has already billions of dollars invested in mine. You can not blame on Chinese company because the Letpadaung copper mine project was initiated by Ivanhoe Mines and UMEHL. Chinese Company bought Ivanhoe Mines share in Letpadaung Copper Mines.
    Former dictator Than Shwe regime was to blame for mining.

    The Commission has no choice but to let mining in Letpadaung Copper mine because current Burmese Government has to compensate billions of dollars if Government broken the contract.

    Some western organizations have given misinformation about Chinese Company involvement in Letpadaung copper mine project to Burmese peoples. No one has complaint about mining when Ivanhoe Mines Ltd was mining with UMEHL in Letpadaung copper mine. Those organizations are practicing double standard for Western Company and Chinese Company.

    I think Chinese Company is very reasonable and they are doing everything as much as they can on demand by farmers.

    The farmers need to stop demanding for to stop mining. Even in country like Australia, the farmer has no right to object Oil and Gas company fracking in their farmland.

    Burmese peoples must rethink about what kind of democracy they are looking for.
    Peoples are freely expressing definition of democracy in difference from original definition. .
    Egyptians have their own democracy definition and taken down democratically elected Government because of they do not agreed with what Government is doing.

    If peoples are wanted to stop mining in Letpaduang Copper Mine because of Chinese Company was involved in mining project and then they are wrong.
    The country will go backward if peoples against anything which was involved by Chinese Company. To develop country, you need investment in difference sectors that investment may not be coming from the country you wished to come and invest in Burma. Most of Western Company does not take risk and they do not invest their money like China.

    The farmers and land owners should take compensation and move on. It is best interest for nation and all parties. Democracy does not guaranty you will get everything you want.

    Burmese peoples need to stop unreasonable protesting, demanding and attacking on minority ethnic groups if they want to see Burma as prosperous nation in the world.

  4. Do you have any solution for the problem related Letpadaung copper mining project?

    The Letpadaung copper mine is already producing copper and other minerals. The Company has already billions of dollars invested in mine. You can not blame on Chinese company because the Letpadaung copper mine project was initiated by Ivanhoe Mines and UMEHL. Chinese Company bought Ivanhoe Mines share in Letpadaung Copper Mines.
    Former dictator Than Shwe regime was to blame for mining.

    The Commission has no choice but to let mining in Letpadaung Copper mine because current Burmese Government has to compensate billions of dollars if Government broken the contract.

    Some western organizations have given misinformation about Chinese Company involvement in Letpadaung copper mine project to Burmese peoples. No one has complaint about mining when Ivanhoe Mines Ltd was mining with UMEHL in Letpadaung copper mine. Those organizations are practicing double standard for Western Company and Chinese Company.

    I think Chinese Company is very reasonable and they are doing everything as much as they can on demand by farmers.

    The farmers need to stop demanding for to stop mining. Even in country like Australia, the farmer has no right to object Oil and Gas company fracking in their farmland.

    Burmese peoples must rethink about what kind of democracy they are looking for.
    Peoples are freely expressing definition of democracy in difference from original definition. .
    Egyptians have their own democracy definition and taken down democratically elected Government because of they do not agreed with what Government is doing.

    If peoples are wanted to stop mining in Letpaduang Copper Mine because of Chinese Company was involved in mining project and then they are wrong.
    The country will go backward if peoples against anything which was involved by Chinese Company. To develop country, you need investment in difference sectors that investment may not be coming from the country you wished to come and invest in Burma. Most of Western Company does not take risk and they do not invest their money like China.

    The farmers and land owners should take compensation and move on. It is best interest for nation and all parties. Democracy does not guaranty you will get everything you want.

    Burmese peoples need to stop unreasonable protesting, demanding and attacking on minority ethnic groups if they want to see Burma as prosperous nation in the world.

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