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.


Description

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
NameBan Chaung coal mine, Karen state, Myanmar
CountryMyanmar
ProvinceKaren state
SiteDawei 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)Land acquisition conflicts
Tailings from mines
Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesLand
Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Ban Chaung Coal Mine is an open pit mine located in Dawei Township, Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar [1,2].

Three companies have been associated with the Ban Chaung Coal Mine Project: Energy Earth PCL, East Star Company and Thai Asset Mining Company. A fourth company, the Myanmar Mayflower Mining Enterprise Co. Ltd., holds the 2,100 acres (ca. 850 ha) mining concessions [1,2,3]. (For more details on the companies involved, see complaint to NHRCT [1] and [4]).

According to the complaint, the Mayflower company received the first concession covering 1,500 acres in 2010, and the second concession, covering 600 acres, in 2011 [2,7]. The company itself is not involved in the operations on the ground [7]. The Thai Asset Mining company has developed transport infrastructure for the mine [2].

The Thai East Star Company became involved in the project in 2011 and was granted permission by the KNU to mine in Mayflower’s concession area [2]. The Thai coal mining and distribution company Energy Earth PCL reportedly entered into a joint agreement with Thai East Star in 2012 to fund the mine and distribute the coal to its network of buyers [3,7]. By now, Energy Earth PCL may have pulled out of the project [2].

According to IDI, it is unclear whether all companies are still involved, or if additional companies have been brought in [3].

For a detailed analysis of the investment chain underlying the companies involved in the Ban Chaung mine, see the report published by IDI in 2017 [4]. The report revealed the hidden and indirect involvement of the Austrian Raiffeisen Bank (holding a 3% share of Energy Earth PCL) and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), which holds a significant equity share of the Raiffeisen Bank [5]. Also the Postal Savings Bank of China is indirectly involved through complex investment chains (for details, see 4. For a response from the IFC, see 9).

According to IDI, the project has been producing about 500 tons of coal per day [3, see also 1].

A report by IDI (2017) mentions that further permits may have been granted to two new companies, covering an additional area of 2,800 acres (ca. 1,133 ha), which would more than double the existing mining area [4].
Project Area (in hectares)850
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationca. 16,000
Start Date2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesEast 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 actorsMinistry of Mines, Union government of Myanmar

Tanintharyi Regional Government

Karen National Union (KNU)

and others
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersTarkapaw Youth Group

Dawei Development Association (DDA),

Tenasserim River & Indigenous People Networks (Trip Net)

Spirit in Education Movement

KESAN, Karen Environmental and Social Action Network, http://www.kesan.asia/

Inclusive Development International (IDI), https://www.inclusivedevelopment.net/campaign/myanmar-coal-mine/

Banchaung community’s sustainable environmental conservation committee

and others
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
ethnic Karen
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-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
Impacts
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
OtherExposure to toxic fumes

Skin diseases
Socio-economic 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
OtherInternally displaced people (IDPs) will be unable to return, if the mine further expands
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
compensation was reportedly insufficient and unequal
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The mine is currently suspended and an investigation by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand is ongoing.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
[click to view]

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

2014 Environmental Conservation Rules
[click to view]

1994 Myanmar Mines Law
[click to view]

2012 Foreign Investment Law
[click to view]

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

References

[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]

[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]

Links

[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]

[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]

[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]

[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]

Media Links

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

Other Documents

Cover of the civil society report Source: 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". http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/TRIPN-2015-10-We_Used_to_Fear_Bullets-Now_We_Fear_Bulldozers-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

Burning coal in Ban Chaung
[click to view]

Villagers travel by boat Source: 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". http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/TRIPN-2015-10-We_Used_to_Fear_Bullets-Now_We_Fear_Bulldozers-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

Skin diseases Source: 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". http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/TRIPN-2015-10-We_Used_to_Fear_Bullets-Now_We_Fear_Bulldozers-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

Dumped mining waste Source: 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". http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/TRIPN-2015-10-We_Used_to_Fear_Bullets-Now_We_Fear_Bulldozers-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

Road blockades Source: 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". http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/TRIPN-2015-10-We_Used_to_Fear_Bullets-Now_We_Fear_Bulldozers-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

Company signboard Source: 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". http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/TRIPN-2015-10-We_Used_to_Fear_Bullets-Now_We_Fear_Bulldozers-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

indigenous knowledge research in Ban Chaung Source: 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". http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/TRIPN-2015-10-We_Used_to_Fear_Bullets-Now_We_Fear_Bulldozers-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

Other Comments"we used to fear bullets, now we fear bulldozers" (slogan of Tarpawak Your Group)
Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team (ejatlas.asia"at"gmail.com)
Last update04/10/2018
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