MAC: Mines and Communities

Burma regime's mine products lead in export

Published by MAC on 2003-11-14

This is a short news piece but speaks a volume: while during the late 1990s the importance of mining diminished for the Burmese regime, latest figures (if they can be trusted) show that the military is primarily dependent on mining for its foreign exchange (the biggest official contributor being Robert Friedland's Ivanhoe Mines)

Burma regime's mine products lead in export

Xinhua news agency

November 14, 2003

The export of mine products from Myanmar (Burma) reached 429.68 million US dollars in the first half of 2003, standing as the largest in export value categorically, saiys a latest report of the local Business Tank.

The mine products exported represented 34.4 percent of the country's total export of over 1.24 billion dollars during the previous six- month period, the custom data was quoted as saying.

The minerals export was followed by agricultural products (233.01 million dollars), textiles and garments (214.48 million dollars), and timber and forest products (180.45 million dollars).

In 2002, mine products exports went to 932.77 million dollars, taking up 37.9 percent of the total which stood at over 2.46 billion dollars, according to the data.

About a dozen of foreign companies from Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States have been involved in mineral exploration in Myanmar and foreign contracted investment in the sector has reached 526.49 million dollars in 52 projects since the country opened to such investment in late 1988, according to official statistics.

To develop its mining industry, Myanmar has sponsored three rounds of competitive biddings for mineral prospecting and exploration in the country in 1994, 1995 and 1997 respectively with a total of 35 blocks having been granted to foreign companies.

The bid for the fourth round of mineral exploration in 42 blocks was extended by the government in August 2002.

[Note: Myanmar mine export statistics usually combine income from natural gas exports
with the value of metal and mineral exports. In fact an Associated Press report at the end of October said there had been a decline, both in total exports and mine exports during the first six months of fiscal 2003-4 (Apr - Sep).

News reports about the value of exports are frequently revised before a final figure is reached. They often confuse calendar year figures with fiscal year figures but almost certainly, when everything is totaled up for the year, the value of both gas and mine exports will be up.

Copper cathode prices are up by about a third since the beginning of January and mine production at Freidland's Monywa mine is also higher this year. In 2002, exports of copper amounted to about US$ 40 million and could reach US$ 55 million this year. Copper is the main metal export, but coal, zinc, and antinomy are being exported to Thailand, tin to Singapore, and a new zinc fuming plant at Namtu is about to come on line with export expected to Yunnan (China).

(Thanks to Eric Snider for this additional commentary)

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