Govern­ment goes af­ter old gold debt from min­ing firms

The Myanmar Times - - Business - CHAN MYA HTWE chan­myahtwe@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Emoon

GOLD min­ing com­pa­nies that have failed to hand over an agreed por­tion of their gold finds to the govern­ment are to be sued by the author­i­ties.

U Tan Dine, a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at the Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­source and En­vi­ron­men­tal Conservation, said de­fault­ing com­pa­nies owe nearly 17,000 ticals of pure gold (one tical equals 0.576 ounces). That is worth about US$190,000 at to­day’s prices.

The govern­ment is to launch civil suits against five out of 181 com­pa­nies in­volved in a pro­duc­tion-shar­ing sys­tem, he said. The amount owed goes back to 2007. The pre­vi­ous govern­ment sued three com­pa­nies for 162.21 ticals.

“Com­pa­nies should be alert to changes in pol­icy on the part of the govern­ment,” U Tan Dine told The Myan­mar Times. “We don’t want to re­sort to pros­e­cu­tion, but the amount we are owed is too great.”

U Tan Dine said the govern­ment was pri­ori­tis­ing its claims and seek­ing its dues from those com­pa­nies that could af­ford to pay. “The govern­ment wants to get back what it is owed, and it will do what it has to do to get it,” he said.

Most gold min­ing com­pa­nies are located in Sa­gaing, Tanintharyi, Man­dalay and Bago re­gions, and Kachin, Kayin and Mon states.

The five com­pa­nies to be sued are Shwe Sin Hein, Moe Hein Tun, Htay Win Tun and Moe Kyo Lion in Sa­gaing Re­gion, as well as Ni­lar Hninsi in Singu town­ship, Man­dalay Re­gion. The govern­ment has an­nounced in sta­te­owned me­dia its in­tent to launch le­gal ac­tion against them in Nay Pyi Taw.

The first step for the min­istry is to de­mand pay­ment of the gold owed. Of­fi­cials can also or­der the of­fend­ing com­pany struck from the list of au­tho­rised firms. The com­pany may plead that they were un­able to mine in their des­ig­nated area be­cause of un­rest. But ac­tion will be taken against any com­pany deemed to be in a po­si­tion to pay.

“Those five com­pa­nies are still op­er­at­ing, so we’re plan­ning to sue them,” said U Tan Dine. “Le­gal ac­tion will be sus­pended if they pay the debt, which they can do at any time, even af­ter the case has be­gun. But the state will get as much as it can.”

U Tan Dine said that if the courts rule in the gov­ern­ments favour and the com­pany can’t pay, the will fol­low due process and seek a war­rant for ob­tain­ing the com­pany’s prop­erty.

Af­ter deal­ing with these five com­pa­nies, the govern­ment in­tends to go af­ter the oth­ers, he said.

The five com­pa­nies do not have pub­licly avail­able con­tact de­tails and could be reached for com­ment.

‘The govern­ment wants to get back what it is owed, and it will do what it has to do to get it.’

U Tan Dine Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources

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