MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Orchards being converted to Chinese gold mines

Published by MAC on 2009-11-30
Source: Kachin News Group

Orchards being converted to Chinese gold mines

Written by Kachin News Group

23 November 2009

Orchards famous for its oranges in Burma's northern Kachin State is being converted to Chinese-owned gold mines by Zahkung Ting Ying, leader of a former Kachin armed group, who is loyal to the repressive Burmese junta, said local sources.

Mandung orange fields in Waingmaw Township are located about 20 miles east of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State. Local orchard owners have been pressurized to sell their orange fields to Chinese gold mining companies by former New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) leader Ting Ying since October, said villagers of Mandung.

On October 29, over 10 orchard owners in Mandawng sold about 90 acres to Chinese gold mining companies for over 50 million Kyat (over US$52,083) on Ting Ying's say so, said Mandung's villagers. Ting Ying is also a land contractor for all gold mines, added locals.

Currently, gold mining activities are undertaken with large sophisticated machines in Kachin State such as bulldozers, power-shovels, trucks and modern gold filtering equipment, said Salang Tsa Ji, General Secretary of Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG), who recently visited the gold fields.

Relatives of Ting Ying and dozens of Chinese gold mine workers are stationed in the areas known as Chaung Sone and Hka Wan, on the riverbank of N'Mai Hka in several plastic-fibre-roof tents, said local eyewitnesses.

Earlier in October, Ting Ying warned owners of orange and paddy fields in Kachin villages along the east riverbanks of N'Mai Hka---Mandung, Hka Wan, Sha-ngaw, Chaung Sone and other small villages that the villages are in the flood zone of the Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy River, according to villagers.

Ting Ying also told them that mining gold early in the orchards and crop fields will be more beneficial to them instead of allowing the land to be gobbled up by floods caused by the Myitsone dam, villagers added.

Tsa Ji told KNG today, "The owners of orange and crop fields in the villages were psychologically tricked by Zahkung Ting Ying to sell their land to the Chinese gold company".

There are thousands of acres of orchards and paddy-fields in Mandawng and the areas close to it is. Now the area is threatened with conversion to gold mines, said local villagers.

In Kachin State, oranges are mainly produced in Mandawng and Ga Ra Yang in Waingmaw Township, Puta-O district and Hukawng valley. It tastes unusually good and is sought after by people in the country.

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