MAC/20: Mines and Communities

China picks Molybdenum from hydropower projects in Burma

Published by MAC on 2009-04-06

Kachin News Group

China is secretly spiriting away Molybdenum (Mo) metal, also called Mukuang in Chinese from Burma's northern Kachin State while working in several hydropower projects, said local sources.

Molybdenum is a very hard silver-coloured metallic element used especially to make steel stronger.

Currently, Molybdenum is being taken by Chinese companies from the mountains near the Chipwi (Chibwe) hydropower project in N'Mai River (N'Mai Hka in Kachin) east of Kachin State and two hydropower projects in Taping River also called Ta Hkaw Hka in Kachin and Dapain in Chinese in Bhamo district, said local people near the project sites.

People in Chipwi city said the Chinese government's China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) employees arrived for the construction of the hydropower project since early 2007. The company started digging mines in the mountains around the project site and began taking away Molybdenum secretly to their country in trucks.

Under the protection of Burma's ruling junta, locals, Burmese Army authorities and the local Kachin ceasefire group, the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) are not allowed to visit or check the mining areas and the hydropower project sites. Only Chinese company workers are permitted to enter, according to residents of Chipwi and NDA-K.

Now, about 1,000 workers from CPI armed with sophisticated mining machines and trucks are operating day and night in the project site, said local people.

Similarly, another Chinese company called China Datang Corporation (CDT) arrived early last year near Taping River for construction of two hydropower projects--- Taping No. 1 and Taping No. 2, which is also close to the China border, said local villagers.

The CDT is into mining activities for Molybdenum in the mountain around Taping No. 1 and No. 2 project sites with hundreds of workers and sophisticated digging, drilling and mining machinery. Work continues day and night, said eyewitnesses.

On 27 February, Burmese soldiers destroyed a military post of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) on Bum Sen Bum also called Bum Sen Mountain near Taping River hydropower project sites, said KIO official.

It was aimed to expel them from the project sites. However the KIO has objected and made threatening noises if the Chinese and the junta do not cooperate with the KIO, said a KIO officer in Laiza headquarters on the Sino- Burma border in Kachin State.

The CPI takes Molybdenum from Chipwi to Tengchong in China's southwest Yunnan province whereas the CDT takes the Molybdenum from two Taping River hydropower projects to Yingjiang in Yunnan province, according to local people.

At present, prices of Molybdenum have fallen globally. However the price of raw Molybdenum on the Sino-Burma border is over 80,000 Yuan (US $11,765) per ton, said border businessmen.

China has been taking Molybdenum from the mountains near the NDA-K headquarters Pangwah since the NDA-K signed a permanent ceasefire agreement with the ruling junta in 1989, said sources close to NDA-K.

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