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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.


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
Name of conflict:Mong Len gold mining, Shan state, Myanmar
State or province:Shan state
Location of conflict:West 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 commodities:Gold
Project Details and Actors
Project details

An 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].

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Project area:1,100
Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:340 - 1500
Start of the conflict:2007
Company names or state enterprises:Sai 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 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 actors:Union government of Myanmar
Shan State government
Shan Minister of Mining and Forestry
Border Guard Forces (BGF)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN)
Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN),
Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF),
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
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
ethnic Shan
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-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
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
Other Health impactsExposure 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-economical 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
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
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 alternatives:According 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Industrial gold mining has continued in the area.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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 to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[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 to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[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).
[click to view]

Bulldozers at a mining site Source: Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN).
[click to view]

Report cover Source: Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN).
[click to view]

Toxic cyanide Source: Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN).
[click to view]

Villagers monitor the mining site Source: Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN).
[click to view]

Map Source: Shan Human Rights Foundation.
[click to view]

Ceremony to honor the shot farmer Loong Sarm Source: Shan Human Rights Foundation.
[click to view]

Gold mining in the Loi Kham hills Source: Shan Farmers’ Network.
[click to view]

Military security forces Source: Shan Farmers’ Network.
[click to view]

Poisoned animals Source: Shan Farmers’ Network.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update12/10/2018
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