Two Tanintharyi tin mines suspended
The controversial Heinda and Bawapin mines have been suspended by the local government for failing to follow the Mining Law and for causing environmental damage.
TWO tin mines in Tanintharyi Region have been suspended by the local government for failing to follow the Mining Law and causing environmental damage.
The Heinda and Bawapin mines have long been opposed by local communities, who have accused the companies of polluting water supplies and ruining farmland.
At the end of June, state-run No 2 Mining Enterprise ordered Thailand’s Myanmar Pongpipat Company, which operates Heinda tin ore mining project, and Eastern Mining Company, which runs Bawapin mine, to stop work.
U Myint Maung, Tanintharyi Region minister for natural resources and environmental conservation, said the two companies failed to keep the terms of their contracts, broke mining laws and damaged the environment.
“We formed an inspection group on June 3 after receiving many complaints about the mines in the Dawei area,” he told The Myanmar Times. “We found that the companies were breaking certain laws, so we submitted a recommendation to the central government, which has directed them to suspend operations until they can prove they are following the law.”
Myanmar Pongpipat has already asked to reopen its mine, and claimed to have stopped all illegal activity, he said, and is now testing operations at two of its four sites.
“We are monitoring the company closely during this testing period. If we find something improper, they will have to stop again. Once we have checked these two mines, we will check the other two,” U Myint Maung said.
Since the current government took office in April, more than 10 mining companies have come to the regional government office asking for new mining permits, he said, but none will be given out until existing disputes are solved.
“Our chief minister has said we will tackle all the mining issues before we give any new recommendations to applicants. If the companies already operating mines do not follow the laws, it will be difficult for new companies to get mining permits in the future.”
A worker holds out a mining pan at Heinda tin mine.