MAC: Mines and Communities

Burma: three companies charged with gold mining offences

Published by MAC on 2016-06-20
Source: Eleven Myanmar

Three firms to face action for excessive gold mining in protected forest area

7 June 2016

Legal action will be taken against three companies after they were found to be mining gold excessively and illegally in the Zin forest Reserve in Kantbalu Township, Shwebo District, according to lawmakers and local people.

The forest reserve is the site of important natural features as bat caves and natural underground caves.

Shwe Pyi Thein Co, Shwe Martar Co and Htawara Co have reportedly been mining gold for about three years by blowing up the hills in the Gagalaw area of the forest reserve.

"The investigation was launched by the regional chief minister, MPs and departmental officials. These three companies are violating their business contracts. In mining gold, they cannot use cyanide or dynamite. But they are using them. Around the area are many natural caves and wildlife. The area is also home to more than 40 elephants. [The companies] are destroying the ecosystem. We will stop them promptly and take further steps," said Upper House MP Win Aung.

Under their contracts, Shwe Pyi Thein Co and Shwe Martar Co are each entitled to operate on 20 acres of land. However, the two companies are operating on around 400 acres[A1] .

Htawara Co operates on about 7,000 acres of land. Even during its trial-run period, the company violated its contract and dug in underground caves by hiring Chinese technicians, though hiring foreign experts is illegal.

"We will impose a curfew (Section 144) around this area, if necessary," Win Aung said.

The Gagalaw area has been inhabited by small-scale gold scavengers for many decades. Illegal excessive logging is also common, contributing to environmental degradation, said local people.

Some MPs have suggested that Kantbalu Township should develop tourism as it has many forests and cultural sites.

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