An Inside Look at Letpadaung
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An Inside Look at Letpadaung

The view looking down into the Sabe copper mining site near Monywa in Sagaing Division. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

LETPADAUNG, Sagaing Division — The Letpadaung copper mine project near Monywa in Sagaing Division has sparked public outcry in recent years, especially after a government crackdown on protesters in 2012 injured than 70 people, including several monks.

Local residents and human rights groups have demanded its closure, citing environmental destruction, forced relocation and illegal land confiscation as reasons to scupper the project. Almost two years after the crackdown, an agreement between the mine’s operators and those opposing the project has yet to be reached.

The mine is a joint venture between China’s Wanbao mining company and the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL), a Burmese military-owned conglomerate.

The Letpadaung venture is part of the companies’ wider Monywa copper extraction efforts, which target four copper deposits at the mountains of Sabe, Kyeesin and Letpadaung.

The Letpadaung venture is a 30-year project that is likely to produce 100,000 tons of copper annually and as such is the most promising of the deposits in the area, but at present its development is only 40 percent completed.

Still, its operators say there is no turning back now.

“We have invested up to US$1 billion in this project,” the project manager told The Irrawaddy during a guided tour around the Letpadaung site last month.

“So the project can’t be stopped and it has to continue.”


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2 Responses to An Inside Look at Letpadaung

  1. Burmese mountains, rivers, forests, coastline, tigers, snakes, geckos, girls, … all belong to the greedy Chinese. They can take whatever they want. The citizens of Burma are not allowed to complain about the Chinese. They can complain about the Muslims instead.

  2. UMEHL and Communist China don’t care ruining our beautiful land for their own greed. All the beautiful forest has been deforested. All green forest disappears in our own eyes. Natural resources have been sucked up. The beautiful landscapes have been turned into no man’s land. These wounds will never be healed again. Myanmar regime has wounded our motherland badly.

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