Two Tanintharyi tin mines sus­pended

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - SU PHYO WIN su­phy­owin@mm­times.com

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.”

Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw

A worker holds out a min­ing pan at Heinda tin mine.

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