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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
Name of conflict:Nam Ma coal mines, Shan state, Myanmar
State or province:Shan state
Location of conflict:Hsipaw 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 :Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Land acquisition conflicts
Coal extraction and processing
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Ngwe 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].

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Project area:1,130
Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:ca. 3,000
Start of the conflict:2004
Company names or state enterprises:Ngwe Yi Pale Co. Ltd. from Myanmar - mines operator
No 3. Mining Enterprise Myanmar from Myanmar - joint venture partner
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Mining
Burma Army
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Nam Ma Shan Farmers
Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF),
Shan State Farmers’ Network (Nam La)
Wan Long women’s group
And others
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious 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
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
Impacts of the project
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
Other Health impactsItchy skin.
Deadly traffic accidents occurred in relation to the coal transportation
Tuberculosis cases have increased
Socio-economical 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
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Compensation was inadeqaute and insufficient
Extrajudicial killings
Development of alternatives:Villagers 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Coal mining continues amidst heavy political tensions and armed conflict.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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

1994 Myanmar Mines Law
[click to view]

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
[click to view]

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

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

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[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]

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]

[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]

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
Contributor:EJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update05/10/2018
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