MAC: Mines and Communities

Burma: more strife around Letpadaung copper mine

Published by MAC on 2013-05-07
Source: AFP, AP, The Irrawaddy (2013-05-13)

Gold mine collapse kills at least eleven people

A gold mine collapse in eastern Burma has resulted in the deaths of at least eleven people.

Police have been accused of quelling another protest by farmers near the Letpadaung copper mine, with batons and rubber bullets, injuring more than two dozen villagers and arresting three others.

The farmers were attempting to plough land, seized from them by the mining company.

Myanmar rains, gold mine collapse kill 11

Associated Press

3 May 2013

Heavy rains in eastern Myanmar killed at least 11 people, including several who died when a gold mine collapsed, officials said Friday.

Myanmar's national police said in a statement that the casualties occurred in two separate locations Thursday in the township of Kalaw, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the main city, Yangon.

In one incident, eight gold mine workers were killed and seven injured when a huge tree fell on their living quarters. In another incident nearby, three other gold mine workers were killed and four went missing when part of the mine they were working in collapsed, police said.

Lawmaker Thaung Shwe put the death toll at 16 and said rescuers believed several people were still trapped inside the debr is of the gold mine. He said they were trying to clear it away Friday.


Govt blames ‘anarchic' villagers for Latpadaung incident

AFP

26 April 2013

Myanmar authorities defended the police handling of a land protest near a Chinese-backed mine, state media reported Friday, accusing villagers of attacking them with petrol bombs, sticks and stones.

Activists on Thursday accused police of quelling a protest by farmers near the Letpadaung mine in Monywa, central Myanmar, with batons and rubber bullets, injuring more than two dozen villagers and arresting three others.

The clashes were an echo of a brutal crackdown on demonstrators near the mine last year, which left dozens wounded, including monks, and highlighted the incendiary nature of land disputes in Myanmar as it undergoes sweeping reforms.

On Thursday dozens of farmers attempted to plough land which no longer belongs to them prompting police to move in, state mouthpiece the New Light of Myanmar reported.

"Villagers attacked throwing handmade fire [petrol] bombs... and throwing stones at the security forces," injuring at least 15 police officers and prompting authorities to fire rubber bullets as a warning.

Despite orders to disperse "an anarchic group" of villagers continued to attack police, with two protesters wielding a "stick and sword", the report added.

Villagers vowed to protest again on Friday afternoon, calling for the release of three people arrested over the clashes.

Denying protesters used petrol bombs, environmental activist Ba Htoo did admit stones were thrown at police lines.

The farmers accuse authorities of evicting them from land around the mine-a joint venture between Chinese firm Wanbao and military-owned Myanmar Economic Holding-and many locals want it shut down.

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has urged locals to accept compensation for their land, following a probe into a brutal crackdown at a protest at the mine last year.

The Nobel laureate, who is normally venerated around the country, was in March heckled by villagers enraged by her recommendation that the copper mine continue to operate, despite villagers' concerns.

Yi Win, a villager who was at the scene of Thursday's clashes, said locals "cannot accept what she [Suu Kyi] said," adding "we want to get our land back and stop the copper mine project".

Suu Kyi's report to parliament last month said police used phosphorus against demonstrators at the mine in November in the harshest crackdown on protesters since the end of military rule.

However, the probe into the clampdown recommended the mine project should not be scrapped, despite conceding it only brought "slight" benefits to the nation.


Death toll rises in east Burma mining accident

The Irrawaddy

13 May 2013

Rescuers are continuing to find victims after heavy rains and landslides earlier this month caused a mine to collapse in east Burma's Shan State, with the death toll surpassing 30 last week, according to local reports.

Col. Zaw Win, a subcontractor at the gold mine in Shwe Min Phone village, Kalaw Township, told The Irrawaddy late last week that 36 people had been found dead, including Col. Thura Pyone Cho, who was overseeing the mining operations, after the mine collapsed late on May 2.

Eight people were still missing, he said, adding that rescuers continued to search for survivors.

The mine, owned by Geo Asia Industry and Mining Company, collapsed at about 11 pm on May 2 following heavy rains. Sixteen night-shift workers w ere trapped and killed inside, while others drowned along the river banks.

Many of the workers who had come to the mine from other townships returned home after the accident, Col. Zaw Win said.

"There are over 10,000 workers here. After the accident, half the workers have gone home," he said. "So it's very difficult for the mine to operate."

He said compensation had been given to injured workers and the families of those killed in the accident.

Geo Asia, which has been running the mining project in south Shan State for a year, lost several million kyat in the accident, he added.

Local residents said 16 bodies were recovered inside the gold mine and the rest were found outside.

"The company is still finding casualties in the gold mine," added Ko Maung Htein, a local resident.

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