MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Burma update

Published by MAC on 2007-06-29


Burma update

29th June 2007

A leading Canadian engineering company is assisting one of China's biggest mining enterprises to construct a major ferronickel project in Burma. This is despite an effective embargo on all assistance to, and investment in, the military regime from many other countries, including the US and members of the European Union.

Hatch - which operates in India, the Middle East, Europe and throughout north and south America - is no stranger to controversy. Among its numerous projects are the Alumar alumina refinery in Brazil, and expansion of oil sands mining in Albert. [see: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press1475.htm]


China Nonferrous Metal Group starts nickel project in Burma

Comtex News Network

29th June 2007

Sources from China Nonferrous Metal Mining (Group) Co., Ltd. (CNMC) say the company has gained regulatory approval to start constructing its nickel project in Burma with the financial support from the Export-Import Bank of China and China Development Bank.

The project, to cost nearly USD 600 million, is the largest one in the history of China and Burma's cooperation on developing the mining industry. It is designed to be capable of producing 85,000 tons of ferronickel upon completion. Canadian-based Hatch and China Nonferrous Engineering and Research Institute will jointly design the project.

Luo Tao, president of CNMC, remarked during its latest visit to the Asia-Pacific headquarters of Hatch in Brisbane of Australia with a delegation that his group has sent task force to Burma to negotiate about concerned matters for 3 times. The national governments of China and Burma highly paid attention to his company and its project and will give further support.

Hatch will be responsible for analyzing the production cost of ferronickel with the same technics worldwide. The two also discussed relevant technologic issues such as electric power and coal consumption of the project.


Comment by Eric Snider:

A couple of weeks ago China Nonferrous Metals was saying that it would probably have to wait until year's end for junta approval of their nickel project at Tagaungtaung. [see: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press1531.htm]

If the Comtex report is right, it looks as if this approval has already come through, perhaps during the recent SPDC [Burma military junta] meeting at Nay Pyi Daw.

In taking on Hatch as joint consultants for the project design CNMC has hired one of the best known mining engineering firms in the world. The Hatch office in Brisbane is known as Connell Hatch and resulted from a marriage a few years back of the Australian engineering consultants Connell Wagner and Canada's Hatch, a private company which claims to have 7,500 employees world-wide working on projects through four or five different subsidiaries. Judging by its website, Connell Hatch has been mainly occupied with designing port and coal handling facilities as well as cement silos, heavy haul rail feasibility studies, coal bed methane and various sugar industry commissions. Separately, Hatch was responsible for designing Alcoa's Alumina Refinery at Pinjarra in Western Australia and several BHP Billiton projects. This can be checked out at:

http://www.connellhatch.com.au/

Electric power at the nickel mine site may be a challenge. A big dam and 600-MW plant is currently under construction by a Yunnan consortium on the Shweli river some 160 km northeast of Tagaung. About the same distance south of Tagaung another group of PRC companies is involved in work on the 780-MW Yeywa hydro project on the Myitnge. Both projects are well underway but completion is still at least two to three years away. The mention of coal suggests they may be thinking of a smaller thermal plant at Tagaungtaung itself.

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