Hands tied on mines
The Ministry of Natural Resources says it is powerless against illegal mining operations on the Kachin State border, an area not under its jurisdiction.
ILLEGAL Chinese gold miners in Tanai district, Kachin State, are beyond the reach of government legal action, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation has admitted. U Than Daing, managing director of the ministry’s No 2 Mining Enterprise, told The Myanmar Times that the zone in question was not under its jurisdiction.
He spoke after a series of raids had been carried out by the armed forces, in which a dozen foreign citizens, believed to be Chinese, were arrested and nearly 60 heavy vehicles and other equipment used for mining were seized. The equipment included rafts and drilling rigs used in gold mining.
The raid was reported in the military owned Myawady newspaper on August 6, which described the arrested individuals as foreigners. U Than Daing said the men were Chinese.
He described that part of Kachin State, near the Chinese border, as “not peaceful”, adding that transportation was very difficult. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation had therefore not designated the zone as a gold-mining site for those reasons, and any mining that was being conducted there was outside its control.
The ministry has granted permits to 10 firms for small-scale gold mining operations in Tanai township, including seven in Minekone village, two between Minekon and Nanpu village and one in Shinveyan area. None of those were involved in the seizures and arrests carried out by the armed forces, he said.
“The companies targeted in the seizures are Chinese firms who have paid the Kachin Independence Army to mine gold unofficially along the border. The ministry did not grant them permits, and cannot take legal action against them,” said U Than Daing.
Inbetween the villages of Donban and Shaduzou, the armed forces arrested four foreign citizens and seized 13 backhoes, three 22-wheel vehicles, one 10-wheel vehicle and two rafts on July 28. Two more backhoes, three six-wheel vehicles, and two rafts were seized on July 30 and five rafts were seized on July 31. On August 2, two 10-wheel vehicles, 17 backhoes, three 22-wheel vehicles and 13 rafts were seized along with eight foreigners, according to military-owned Myawady newspaper on August 6.
Kachin State Chief Minister U Khet Aung invited local residents to report to the authorities any evidence of illegal mining or damage to the environment in the state. “We will take action on any such report we receive,” he said.
The chief minister said the authorities were working on a draft regional economic policy, and would take into account the views of local residents about the use of resources.
‘We will take action on any report we receive. ’ U Khet Aung Kachin State chief minister