Published on Saturday, 29 September 2012 07:19
Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited holding a press conference in Latpantaung Mountain on Wednesday (Photos - EMG)
The military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL) on Wednesday said it will be negotiating with residents in northwest Myanmar to make way for a giant copper mine project.
Maung Maung Tint, project department director of UMEHL, told the local media the Latpantaung copper mine project in Monywa will not be shut down, as it is a project that will bring many profits to the country.
The Latpantaung copper mine project was initiated by Canada-based Ivanhoe Mines Ltd and the
Ministry of Mining (1).
After the Canadian company pulled out in 2007, China North Industries Corp signed a contract with the government during Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Myanmar in 2010. It is jointly operated by UMEHL and China's Wenbao Company.
The project is named after the Latpantaung Mountain, near Sarlingyi town’s Monywa district. In an official statement released on its website, the Chinese company said Monywa is "abundant in copper mine resources with excellent mineral quality".
He said that the Chinese company has been permitted to work only inside the mine and UMEHL is the sole holder of the permit. Although he cannot disclose the details, Maung Maung Tint said the Chinese company will receive the least profits while both the government and UMEHL will receive huge income from the project.
Total production from the mines is expected to reach 100,000 tonnes to 150,000 tonnes per year.
Wenbao will take 51 percent of total production while UMEHL will take 49 percent. The Chinese company will bear the costs for construction of facilities and production.
He said he has also invited both local and international environmentalists to conduct a study on the environmental impact of the project.
Protests against the mine
Farmers protesting at Chinese copper mine in late August (Photo -EMG)
The mine project has been the subject of dispute for several months now after farmers staged several protests against the mine company for land grabbing and fear of pollution from the mine.
According to Maung Maung Tint, local residents can claim their losses by officially submitting their appeals and the company will deal with them accordingly.
But a villager, 29-year-old Thawe Thawe Win, along with others in Wathmay Village have rejected UMEHL's offer to negotiate and asked for the project to be shut down instead.
Thawe Thawe Win was one of the 12 female protestors who were detained on September 5 on her way to Monywa from her village. Nine of them were released the next day, but three protestors including Thawe Thawe Win were detained for five days.
Hundreds of people had gathered in the central town of Monywa to demand the release of the protestors until they were all released.
Last month, about 1,000 locals participated in a protest near the project area but police dispersed them with riot shields and batons.
The dispute started two years ago when the locals accepted compensation for three years worth of income from their crops from the mine company. At that time, they had assumed that they were being compensated not for the loss for land, but for the loss of crops which were destroyed to make way for the project’s truck routes.
They, however, found out that the government has leased their land to the mine company for 60 years without consulting them. According to them, 7,680 acres of farmlands from 22 villages have been confiscated, including four villages that were forcibly removed.
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