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
NameHeinda tin mine, Dawei, Myanmar
ProvinceTanintharyi region
SiteMyitta 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)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Specific CommoditiesLand
Tin, Tungsten
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe 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].

The mine was established during British colonial rule. It formed part of a cluster of tin mines located close to Dawei that produced for Burma’s flourishing tin and tungsten industry until the late 1930s. Much of this industry was however destroyed during World War II. During the following military rule, the mine remained under low production [1, see also 6].

In July 1999, the Thai-owned company Myanmar Pongpipat Ltd (MPC) was given the exclusive right to operate the mine together with the state-owned company No. 2 Mining Enterprise (ME2) that operates under the Authority of the Department of Mines, which belongs to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC). The right was granted under a Production Sharing Agreement: MPC holds the right of 65%, while ME2 holds the right of the remaining 35% of production, inclusive a 4% share as royalty to the Department of Mines. MPC has mainly run the operations of the ground, while ME2 has mainly facilitated the investment [1].

MPC’s Investment Permit was renewed by the Myanmar Investment Commission in 2009 and 2014. Through the establishment of the Union Government in 2012, stricter environmental laws were put in place to which the companies must adhere [1].

In average years, tin production amounts to about 1-2 tons every day [1]. Tin and tungsten concentrate is mainly exported for processing to China, Thailand and Malaysia. Much of the tin extracted from the Heinda mine is sent to Thailand for refining [1].

Tin is extracted through hydraulic methods, requiring large quantities of water from the local watershed [1].

Around 10 villages are located in the Heinda village tract, including Myaung Pyo village, Lower Heinda village, YaePhu Wa village, Heinda Pyin village, Phautletto village, KyaePaung Chaung village, Kyaut Twin village and Wa Swan Chaung village. According to a 2015 census, the village tract is comprised of 1,100 households, or 53,000 people. Villagers are of mixed ethnicity and from different religious groups, including Dawei, Kayin and Muslim groups [1].
Project Area (in hectares)854
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationca. 53,000
Start Date1999
Company Names or State EnterprisesNo. 2 Mining Enterprise ME2 (ME2) from Myanmar - operating company
Myanmar Pongpipat Company Ltd (MPC) (MPC) from Thailand - operating company
Relevant government actorsMinistry 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 organisations and other supportersDawei Lawyer’s Groups,

Dawei Pro Bono Lawyers Network DPLN


Dawei Development Association

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 MobilizingArtisanal miners
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Dawei ethnicity (administratively treated as sub-group of Bamar)
Forms of MobilizationCreation 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
Otherhigh toxic levels of lead and arsen found in water streams [1]
Socio-economic 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
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
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 as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

2014 Environmental Conservation Rules
[click to view]

1909 Limitation Act
[click to view]

2012 Foreign Investment Law
[click to view]

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

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
[click to view]


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


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

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

[6] 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]

The Myanmar Times, 21 March 2016. "One villager’s struggle for justice at Heinda tin 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]

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

Other Documents

River pollution Source: Channel news Asia, see https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/thai-owned-mine-in-myanmar-investigated-for-human-rights-violati-8710266
[click to view]

Satellite view Source: Google Maps
[click to view]

Artisanal tin mining Source: DPLN, 2017. "Case Study of the Heinda Mine, Dawei", produced by Dawei Pro-Bono Lawyers Network (DPLN). 71 pages.
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team (ejatlas.asia"at"gmail.com)
Last update01/05/2018