Mong Len gold mining, Shan state, Myanmar

Farmers documented the destructive activities of gold mining companies in the hills of Mong Len. They demand a stop to industrial mining and the restoration of the environment on which their livelihoods depend.


Description

Industrial gold mining in the hills of Mong Len in eastern Shan State has caused much concern and resistance by nearby residents. The area of Loi Kham, meaning “Golden Hills” in Shan, has been known since long for its valuable deposits. Villagers traditionally used to pan gold in the Nam Kham stream, but no large-scale mining was present until 2007. Since 2007, over ten companies have arrived and transformed the area into an extractive gold mining site, based on heavy equipment and industrial mining methods including the use of cyanide. Villagers who have been suffering from the mining activities have demanded a cancellation of the activities, the restoration of their farming lands and livelihood assets, as well as a compensation for the damages caused [1,2]. 

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Basic Data
NameMong Len gold mining, Shan state, Myanmar
CountryMyanmar
ProvinceShan state
SiteWest Mong Len tract of Ta Ler sub-township, Tachilek township
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local 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
Specific CommoditiesLand
Gold
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAn area of about 1,100 ha has been dug up by more than ten companies in the Loi Kham hills in the West Mong Len tract of Ta Ler sub-township [2].

The two most severely impacted villages, Na Hai Long and Weng Manaw, have a population of about 340 people [1]. Over 1,500 villages in eight villages are furthermore threatened as the gold mining expands [2].

About ten companies are active in the larger Mon Len gold mining area. In 2007, the companies Sai Lao Herng Co., Minn Oo Aung Co., Hein Linn Sann Co., Sann Baramee Co. and Wanna Thein Than Co. begun to mine for gold in the area. They were soon followed by other companies, i.e. Sai Thip Co., Loi Kham Long Co., Sai Saik Pyo Ye Co., Shwe Taung Co. and KML Co. [2].

Gold mining in Mong Len next to Na Hai Long and Weng Manaw is carried out by Sai Thip Co., Loi Kham Long Co. and Sai Saik Pyo Ye Co. [1].
Project Area (in hectares)1,100
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population340 - 1500
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesSai Thip Co. from Myanmar - gold mining company
Loi Kham Long Mining Co. from Myanmar - gold mining company
Sai Saik Pyo Ye Co. from Myanmar - gold mining company
Sai Lao Herng Co. from Myanmar - gold mining company
Minn Oo Aung Co.my from Myanmar - gold mining company
Hein Linn Sann Co. from Myanmar - gold mining company
Sann Baramee Co. from Myanmar - gold mining company
Wanna Thein Than Co. from Myanmar - gold mining company
KML Co. from Myanmar - gold mining company
Shwe Taung Corporation from Myanmar - gold mining
Relevant government actorsUnion government of Myanmar

Shan State government

Shan Minister of Mining and Forestry

Border Guard Forces (BGF)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersShan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN)

Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), www.shanwomen.org

Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF), http://www.shanhumanrights.org/

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
Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Women
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
ethnic Shan
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Malnutrition, Other Health impacts
OtherExposure to toxic cyanide and used for gold mining.

Itchy skin due to exposure to polluted water.

Violent clashes between security forces and villagers .

Impacts on pregnant women are a concern for locals. Several babies faced health issues and some have died.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Deaths
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Migration/displacement
Repression
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Project temporarily suspended
Compensation was insufficient, according to villagers.
Only small parts of the damaged river and roads were restored, according to villagers.
Death of farmer Loong Sarm who was shot and badly injured in a clash between villagers and security forces. Others were injured during the clashes.
Development of AlternativesAccording to the report [1], the affected villagers demand the following:

1. The mining companies must completely stop their gold mining operations and remove all their equipment from the mining area.

2. The companies must restore the fields and waterways of Na Hai Long to their former state, to the satisfaction of the villagers.

3. They must provide compensation for all 300 acres of damaged fields at the annual rate of 660,000 MMK per acre, and must also pay the actual cost of the land, as this land is now completely unusable.

4. The villagers are calling for all those responsible for the killing of Loong Sarm to be brought to justice.

The villagers also call for constitutional reform to devolve federal powers to state and regional levels, so that decisions on mining concessions and other natural resource extraction are not made at the Naypyidaw level. Finally, villagers call for a nationwide ban on the use of cyanide and other dangerous chemicals in mining operations in Burma.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Industrial gold mining has continued in the area.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

1994 Myanmar Mines Law
[click to view]

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
[click to view]

2014 Environmental Conservation Rules
[click to view]

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

References

[1] Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN), 2016, "Broken promises: deadly gold mining continues in Mong Len". (accessed online 9.10.2018).
[click to view]

[2] Shan Farmers' Network, "Stop Gold Mining in Mong Len!". (accessed online 9.10.2018).
[click to view]

Links

[5] The Myanmar Times, 07 March 2016. "Shan civil society groups call for gold mining suspension". (accessed online 9.10.2018).
[click to view]

[6] The Myanmar TImes, 16 October 2015. "Shan rights groups call for action after mine shooting". (accessed online 9.10.2018).
[click to view]

[7] Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF), News Update, 14 November, 2015. "Burma Army soldiers who opened fire on villagers at eastern Shan State gold mine must be prosecuted". (accessed online 9.10.2018).
[click to view]

[3] Press Release by the Shan Farmers’ Network, 16 July 2014. "Eastern Shan State villagers call for an immediate end to destructive gold mining operations". (accessed online 9.10.2018).
[click to view]

[4] Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF), News Update, 03 May 2016. "Gold mining companies try to buy silence of villagers impacted by toxic waste in eastern Shan State". (accessed online 9.10.2018).
[click to view]

Other Documents

Damaged rice fields Source: Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN). http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/SSFN-2016-03-19-Broken_Promises-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

Bulldozers at a mining site Source: Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN). http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/SSFN-2016-03-19-Broken_Promises-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

Report cover Source: Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN). http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/SSFN-2016-03-19-Broken_Promises-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

Toxic cyanide Source: Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN). http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/SSFN-2016-03-19-Broken_Promises-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

Villagers monitor the mining site Source: Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN). http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/SSFN-2016-03-19-Broken_Promises-en-red.pdf
[click to view]

Map Source: Shan Human Rights Foundation. http://www.shanhumanrights.org/eng/index.php/270-burma-army-soldiers-who-opened-fire-on-villagers-at-eastern-shan-state-gold-mine-must-be-prosecuted
[click to view]

Ceremony to honor the shot farmer Loong Sarm Source: Shan Human Rights Foundation. http://www.shanhumanrights.org/eng/index.php/284-2016-02-27-10-42-06
[click to view]

Gold mining in the Loi Kham hills Source: Shan Farmers’ Network. http://www.shanwomen.org/tai/images/pressrelease/Gold-mining-leaflet-in-Eng.pdf
[click to view]

Military security forces Source: Shan Farmers’ Network. http://www.shanwomen.org/tai/images/pressrelease/Gold-mining-leaflet-in-Eng.pdf
[click to view]

Poisoned animals Source: Shan Farmers’ Network. http://www.shanwomen.org/tai/images/pressrelease/Gold-mining-leaflet-in-Eng.pdf
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team (ejatlas.asia"at"gmail.com)
Last update12/10/2018
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