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Heinda tin mine, Dawei, Myanmar

While affected villagers lost the legal battle against one of the oldest tin mines in the country due to ‘procedural issues’, the controversies around the case have contributed to increased awareness and stricter mining supervision in Tanintharyi region.


The Heinda mine is among the oldest tin mines in Myanmar. Established during British colonial rule, the mine has been continuously operated for about 100 years. During World War II, much of Burma’s tin industry was destroyed and the mine entered a period of low operations for several decades. The mine gained importance again in 1999, when the Thai-owned company Myanmar Pongpipat Ltd. (MPC) took over operations (see project details). Since then, production has substantially increased. Around 10 villages are located close to the mine that, according to villagers, civil society groups, and journalists, have suffered from severe socio-environmental impacts. Myaung Pyo village has been among the most affected villages [1,2,3,4,5].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Heinda tin mine, Dawei, Myanmar
State or province:Tanintharyi region
Location of conflict:Myitta Township, Dawei District
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Tin, Tungsten
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Heinda tin mine is located in the Tenasserim Hills, 25km northeast of Dawei, and covers a concession area of 2110 acres (ca. 854 ha). The area includes three open-pit placer mines [1].

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Project area:854
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectunknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:ca. 53,000
Start of the conflict:1999
Company names or state enterprises:No. 2 Mining Enterprise ME2 (ME2) from Myanmar - operating company
Myanmar Pongpipat Company Ltd (MPC) (MPC) from Thailand - operating company
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation [MONREC]
Department of Mines
Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC)
Myanmar Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA)
Ministry of Home Affairs
and others
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Dawei Lawyer’s Groups,
Dawei Pro Bono Lawyers Network DPLN
Dawei Development Association
World Health Organization
Mine Advisory Group
Dawei Women's Union
88 Generation Open Society
Tenasserim River
and others
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Dawei ethnicity (administratively treated as sub-group of Bamar)
Forms of mobilization: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
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), 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, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Deaths
Other Health impactshigh toxic levels of lead and arsen found in water streams [1]
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
compensation was also refused because it was too little
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project goes on and villagers have lost the court case. However, it should be noted that the controversies around the mine contributed to stricter supervision of mining in the area.
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]

1909 Limitation Act
[click to view]

2012 Foreign Investment Law
[click to view]

2014 Environmental Conservation Rules
[click to view]

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

[1] DPLN, 2017. "Case Study of the Heinda Mine, Dawei", produced by Dawei Pro-Bono Lawyers Network (DPLN). 71 pages.

[2] The Irrawaddy, 7 February, 2018. "Farmers Lose Lengthy Court Battle Against Thai, Govt Mine". (accessed online, 30.04.2018).
[click to view]

[3] Myanmar Times, 17 August 2016. "Tanintharyi tightens mining oversight". (accessed online, 30.04.2018).
[click to view]

[4] Channel News Asia, 5 April 2017. "Thai-owned mine in Myanmar investigated for human rights violations".
[click to view]

[5] Asian Correspondent, 17 May 2017. "Burma: 80 NGOs urge Thai govt to support press freedom, condemn mining firm". (accessed online, 30.04.2018).
[click to view]

[6] Article 19. Drop charges against Karen environmental activist Saw Tha Phoe (2020)
[click to view]

[7] International Federation for Human Rights. Murder of Ms. Chit Pandaing (2016)
[click to view]

Gardiner, N. and Sykes, J. and Trench, A. and Robb, L. 2015. Tin mining in Myanmar: Production and potential. Resources Policy. 46, Part 2: pp. 219-233.
[click to view]

Business & Human Rigths: Myanmar Pongpipat lawsuit (re environmental & health impact of Heinda tin mine)
[click to view]

The Myanmar Times, 21 March 2016. "One villager’s struggle for justice at Heinda tin mine". (accessed online, 30.04.2018).
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update01/05/2018
Conflict ID:3241
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