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Ban Chaung coal mine, Karen state, Myanmar

Indigenous Karen representatives have filed a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand to request an investigation of alleged human rights violations caused by the Thai coal miners.


The Ban Chaung coal mine is a large open-pit mine that, according to civil society reports, has caused severe livelihood loss and environmental degradation, but also strong resistance and mobilizations by locals to stop the unsustainable project [1]. In June 2017, representatives of indigenous Karen filed a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, alleging human rights violations caused by the activities of the Thai mining companies [2]. According to the complaint, the mine has illegally seized villagers’ land, damaged the livelihood of locals, and polluted water bodies and the air. No less than 16,000 people from 22 villages in the Ban Chaung area are impacted or expected to be affected [1,2,3].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ban Chaung coal mine, Karen state, Myanmar
State or province:Karen state
Location of conflict:Dawei township, Tanintharyi Region
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Coal extraction and processing
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Ban Chaung Coal Mine is an open pit mine located in Dawei Township, Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar [1,2].

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Project area:850
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:ca. 16,000
Start of the conflict:2012
Company names or state enterprises:East Star Company from Thailand - mine developer
Myanmar Mayflower Mining Enterprise Co. Ltd from Myanmar - concession holder
Energy Earth Public Company Limited from Thailand - joint venture partner
Thai Asset Mining Company from Thailand - transport infrastructure developer
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Mines, Union government of Myanmar
Tanintharyi Regional Government
Karen National Union (KNU)
and others
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Tarkapaw Youth Group
Dawei Development Association (DDA),
Tenasserim River & Indigenous People Networks (Trip Net)
Spirit in Education Movement
KESAN, Karen Environmental and Social Action Network,
Inclusive Development International (IDI),
Banchaung community’s sustainable environmental conservation committee
and others
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
ethnic Karen
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsExposure to toxic fumes
Skin diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsInternally displaced people (IDPs) will be unable to return, if the mine further expands
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
compensation was reportedly insufficient and unequal
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The mine is currently suspended and an investigation by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand is ongoing.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

2015 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedure
[click to view]

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
[click to view]

1994 Myanmar Mines Law
[click to view]

2014 Environmental Conservation Rules
[click to view]

2012 Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law
[click to view]

2012 Foreign Investment Law
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[8] Tarkapaw Youth Group and the Ban Chaung Commuity Sustainable Environmental Conservation Committee, 2018. "The Wisdom, Knowledge and Customs of Indigenous Communities in Ban Chaung". (accessed online 02.10.2018).
[click to view]

[1] Tarkapaw Youth Group, Dawei Development Association, (DDA), and Tenasserim River & Indigenous People Networks (Trip Net), October 2015 "We Used to Fear Bullets, Now We Fear Bulldozers: Dirty coal mining by military cronies & Thai companies, Ban Chaung, Dawei District, Myanmar". (accessed online 02.10.2018).
[click to view]

[3] Inclusive Development International (IDI), MYANMAR: BAN CHAUNG COAL MINE. (accessed online 02.10.2018).
[click to view]

[4] Inclusive Development International (IDI), 3 March 2017. "Reckless Development: The IFC’s Dodgy Deals in Southeast Asia". (accessed online 02.10.2018).
[click to view]

[5] The Irrawaddy, 15 September 2017. "Thai Human Rights Body Hears Complaints Against Tanintharyi Coal Mine". (accessed online 02.10.2018).
[click to view]

[6] Myanmar Times, 09 May 2018 "Dawei villagers seek president’s help to stop Banchaung coal mine". (accessed online 02.10.2018).
[click to view]

[9] The Irrawaddy, 30 March 2017. "World Bank Financing Arm Under Fire Over Burmese Coal Mine Link". (accessed online 02.10.2018).
[click to view]

[2] Formal complaint to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, June 9, 2017. "Human rights violations connected to Thai companies’ operations at the Ban Chaung coal mine in Thanintharyi Region, Myanmar". (accessed online 02.10.2018).
[click to view]

[7] Press Release, Inclusive Development International (IDI), 12 September 12 2017. "National Human Rights Commission of Thailand Holds Initial Hearing for Ban Chaung Coal Mine Project". (accessed online 02.10.2018).
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Ban Chaung - impacts of coal mining
[click to view]

Other comments:"we used to fear bullets, now we fear bulldozers" (slogan of Tarpawak Your Group)
Meta information
Contributor:EJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update18/08/2019
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