MAC: Mines and Communities

Burma: Villagers call for an end to destructive gold mining in Eastern Shan

Published by MAC on 2014-07-20
Source: Statement (2014-07-16)

Farmers in Burma's Eastern Shan state have called for an immediate end to gold mining operations in the area, claiming it is seriously polluting water sources and causing other environmental damage.

Thye say that more than 350 acres of farmland can no longer be cultivated due to toxic wastes produced by ten gold-mining companies.

People have received only minimal compensation and, although the local government ordered the companies to suspend their activities in April, mining has continued with the companies pressuring villagers to "stop complaining".

A short but, vivid, illustrated  report on this issue can be downloaded at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2Vnefme6P1aVHBVTEMzR0RjaG8/edit?usp=sharing

Eastern Shan State villagers call for an immediate end to destructive gold mining operations

Shan Farmers' Network press release

16 July 2014

The Shan Farmers' Network and affected villagers held a press conference today in Taunggyi to demand an immediate end to destructive gold mining operations in Mong Len, eastern Shan State.

Over ten companies have been carrying out mining in the "Loi Kham" hills east of Ta Ler, Tachilek township, since 2007. They have dug up over eleven square miles of forested hillsides, and used large amounts of cyanide to extract gold. The resulting soil erosion and water pollution have destroyed the farming livelihoods of about 340 people in two nearby villages, Na Hai Long and Weng Manaw.

The main local water source, the Nam Kham stream, is now shallow and polluted. Rice fields and vegetable gardens have been destroyed; farm animals poisoned and people are suffering from skin diseases. Families can no longer afford to send their children to school, and young people are migrating to neighboring countries to work. Only minimal compensation has been provided by companies.

"It has been two years already that I've been unable to work on my farm, because of water shortage due to the gold mining,"said Sai Don, a villager from Na Hai Long.

"Without our farms, we will starve." said Sai Seng, another affected villager.

Following appeals from the villagers to end the mining, in mid-April the Shan State government authorized the township authorities to order the mining companies to stop their operations temporarily. However, the mining has not stopped, and the mining companies have tried to pressure villagers to withdraw their demands.

The affected villagers and the Shan Farmers' Networkhave therefore recently submitted the following demands to the Shan State Parliament:
1. The gold mining companies must immediately stop their mining operations in the Mong Len area, and withdraw all equipment and personnel from the area
2. The waterways and lands must be restored to the condition they were in before the mining began.
3. Full compensation must be provided for all the losses incurred by local villagers due to the mining.

For more information or to obtain a leaflet about detailed impacts of the mining, please contact shanfarmers[at]gmail.com, or visit www.shanhumanrights.org

Media Contacts: Nang Lar +95 949257194+95 949257194 (Burmese)
Sai Noom +95 9250841617+95 9250841617 (Shan)


Shan farmers say gold mining is wrecking their land

The Irrawaddy

16 July 2014

Farmers from eastern Shan State's Tachileik Township have called for an immediate end to gold mining operations in the area, which they say are seriously polluting water sources and causing other environmental damage.

The ethnic Shan villagers from Na Hai Long, Weng Manaw and Ganna villages in Talay sub-township said that more than 300 acres of farmland can no longer be cultivated due to waste produced by gold-mining companies.

A group of the farmers traveled to the Shan State capital of Taunggyi to give a press conference organized by the Shan Farmers' Network on Wednesday.

The farmers group said 10 different companies have been carrying out mining there since 2007, with locals receiving only minimal compensation . Although the local government was convinced in mid-April to issue an order to the companies to suspend their activities, mining has continued and companies have allegedly pressured villagers to stop complaining, a statement said.

Nang Lar, a farmer from Na Hai Long village told The Irrawaddy the Loi Kham hills have been devastated by gold mining.

"We now have no proper farmland to work on," Nang Lar said, adding that the Namkham stream, the main source of water for agriculture in the area, have become shallow as mining waste has been dumped into it.

"We have not been able to farm since 2012. Twelve out of my family's 17 acres of farmland have been polluted by the sediment. Our water source is being polluted and the fish even die from the polluted water."

She said about 400 villagers from 90 households across the three villages may have to leave for other areas, or to jobs overseas.

"My village has been here s ince my great grandparents. I was born and raised here," said Nang Lar. "I don't want to leave; therefore we are demanding a halt to such mining operations."

She added that the mining companies' trucks have badly damaged the road connecting the villages with Tachileik, on the Burmese-Thai border.

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