Nam Ma coal mines, Shan state, Myanmar

Shan farmers call on the government to “immediately stop the mining operations, which are damaging their farming livelihoods, environment and health” [1].


Resource extraction in Myanmar’s conflict zones has fueled ongoing abuses of local communities as well as environmental degradation. Several coal mines in the Nam Ma area in Hsipaw township, Northern Shan State have caused severe concerns over livelihood loss, health impacts and violent attacks against locals, informs a report published in 2017 by the Nam Ma Shan Farmers [1].

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Basic Data
NameNam Ma coal mines, Shan state, Myanmar
ProvinceShan state
SiteHsipaw township
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
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsNgwe Yi Pale Co. is a Mandalay-based company that produces cement and sugar, with factories in Mandalay and Nawng Khio [1]. The company began mining in 2004. At that time, the Burma Army Northeast Regional Commander had a 1/3 share in the mine during, documents the civil society report [1]. The 10-year permit granted in 2010 covered a concession area of 11.3 km2 (1,130 ha), named Kown Baung (Nar Koon) area [1].

Most of the mining is currently taking place in Na Koon village [2]. The Na Koon coal mines were open pit mines for about 10 years (from 2004-2010). Underground mining begun since 2014. Both Burmese workers and Chinese engineers are employed [1]. The Pieng Hsai coal mines are also operated by Ngwe Yi Pale. Mining operations started in 2005 and company housing was subsequently built at the mine [1]. The Parng Nga coal mines started open pit mining operations in 2015. They are located about 2 km northwest of Parng Nga village, next to the Nam Pawng river. About 30 workers are occupied at the mine [1].

Seven villages are located in the Nam Ma tract: (Nam Ma) Wan Long, Pieng Hsai, Pa Teb, Na nan, Nawng New, Koong Pao, Na Koon. The total population is about 1,500 people [1]. Seven villages are located near the Nam Ma tract, along the roads to Hsipaw: Na Taw, Pang Nga, Mawk Tong, Nar Heep, Nam Bu, Nong Khun, Hang Nar. Their total population is about 1,800 people [1].

According to the report, more than hundred trucks of coal are being transported each day [1].

SOME OF THE IMPACTS AT THE DIFFERENT MINING SITES (see full report [1] for details)

At Na Koon, the mine damaged farmers’ hill fields, blocked irrigation for their fields and caused related economic losses [1]. Also sand is mined for the road construction. During rains, sand is washed onto the fields, making them uncultivable.

At the Pieng Hsai mines, no work was offered to locals, even though some applied for, states the report [1]. Farmlands of several households were dug up and mining waste was dumped on them. Irrigation sources were blocked, causing a decline in yields. The company paid compensation, which however was reported to be insufficient and unable to cover not even the annual losses caused by farmland degradation [1].

The Pieng Hsai mine was initially an open pit mine, but in 2009, the company begun to dig at Ho Na Pha, south of Pieng Hsai village, where the main watershed of the Nam Ma tract is located. Protected by customary laws, the villagers did not allow anybody to cut trees in the area [1]. However, in April 2012, the company secretly started to extract coal from the area. The SSPA/SSA complained about this and fined the company ca. 10,000 USD. The company stopped then operations at Ho Na Pha [1], however the company still aims to extract coal from Ho Na Pha [5]. In 2015 the company stopped all extraction activities in Pieng Hsai, without cleaning up the area from the waste piles. Moreover, the main mining pit soon filled up with water, eroding nearby lands. The villagers want the company to clean up the area and to restore their former farming lands [1].
Project Area (in hectares)1,130
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationca. 3,000
Start Date2004
Company Names or State EnterprisesNgwe Yi Pale Co. Ltd. from Myanmar - mines operator
No 3. Mining Enterprise Myanmar from Myanmar - joint venture partner
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Mining

Burma Army
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNam Ma Shan Farmers

Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF),

Shan State Farmers’ Network (Nam La)

Wan Long women’s group

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
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious 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
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
On June 29, 2017, 600 villagers held a forest blessing ceremony to oppose coal mining. The ceremony was led by 15 monks at the Ho Na Pa forest – the main watershed for farmers
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), 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, Global warming, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases, Accidents, Other Health impacts, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Deaths
Potential: Infectious diseases
OtherItchy skin.

Deadly traffic accidents occurred in relation to the coal transportation

Tuberculosis cases have increased
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Criminalization of activists
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Compensation was inadeqaute and insufficient
Extrajudicial killings
Development of AlternativesVillagers and organizations such as the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) call on "the Burmese government for an immediate suspension of all resource extraction projects in ethnic conflict areas. Projects should only be reconsidered when a federal peace settlement has been reached, granting local communities the right to decide over natural resources in their areas." [4].
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Coal mining continues amidst heavy political tensions and armed conflict.
Sources and Materials

1994 Myanmar Mines Law
[click to view]

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
[click to view]

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


[1] Nam Ma Shan Farmers, 2017 "Stop Coal Mining in Nam Ma". Report. (accessed online 27.09.2018).
[click to view]


[3] Shan Human Rights Foundation, News Update, 11 July 2017. "Recent TB cases raise concern for health consequences of longstanding air pollution levels in Nam Ma coal mining area". (accessed online 27.09.2018).
[click to view]

[4] Shan Human Rights Foundation, News Update, 30 August 2016. "Killing for Coal". (accessed online 27.09.2018).
[click to view]

[5] Shan Human Rights Foundation, News Update, 06 March 2017. "Village leader of Nam Ma coal mining area shot dead by unknown assailants". (accessed online 27.09.2018).
[click to view]

Mizzima News, 3 June 2017 "Local villagers fear coal mining expansion in Nam Ma". (accessed online 27.09.2018)
[click to view] on the Nam Ma mine. (accessed online 27.09.2018).
[click to view]

[2] Shan Human Rights Foundation, News Update, 29 June 2017. "600 villagers hold forest blessing ceremony to oppose coal mining in Nam Ma". (accessed online 27.09.2018).
[click to view]

Other Documents

Coal mining in Nam Ma
[click to view]

Cover of the civil society report
[click to view]

Protests at Nam Ma temple
[click to view]

Nam Ma villager meeting
[click to view]

Water contamination
[click to view]

[click to view]

Forest blessing ceremony
[click to view]

Coal piles
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update05/10/2018