Pinpet iron mine and steel factory, Shan State, Myanmar

Mt. Pinpet was transformed into the country’s largest iron mine. Rumors of uranium mining surrounded the project. Severe impacts on local ethnic Pa-O provoked social mobilizations to stop the mine and factory.


Located in war-torn Shan State, the Burmese and Russian-backed Pinpet iron exploitation and processing project has transformed the area into the country’s largest iron mine. The mine and the iron processing factory have caused strong adverse impacts on local ethnic Pa-O and on the environment. 

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Basic Data
NamePinpet iron mine and steel factory, Shan State, Myanmar
ProvinceShan State
SiteMount Pinpet, Taunggyi 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
Uranium extraction
Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Metal refineries
Other industries
Specific CommoditiesCement
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsPinpet is also referred to as Penpet, Pangpet, Pengpek or Pinngo [1].

Mount Pinpet covers about 800 ha. Containing the second largest known iron ore deposit in Myanmar, the mountain has a long history of attempts to develop its mineral resources. It is also rich in other mineral resources such as copper, limestone, wolfram and tin. The presence of uranium deposits has long been suspected but never made public officially [1].

According to the 2009 PYO report, the Pinpet deposits are the second largest known deposits of iron ore in Myanmar. They consist of estimated reserves of 10 million tons of hematite (56.4% iron) and 70 million tons of limonite (42.6% iron). Furthermore, about 30 million tons of limestone, used to make cement, are deposited in the mountain [1].

Iron ore deposits at Mt. Pinpet were discovered in 1951. First attempts to explore the mine were made in 1961 but stalled in 1962 after Burma’s first military coup. A second attempt followed the 1991 ceasefire agreement. The military arrived to secure the area and land confiscations started. The activities were stalled again, this time, however due to lack of funds. Since 2003, the attempts to explore the mountain have moved forward. The mine, the iron ore processing factory and the cement factory have been established on an area covering 11,000 acres (ca. 4,450 ha) [1].

According to the Myanmar’s Ministry of Industry, the iron processing factory (termed No. 2 Pen pet Steel factory), has a capacity to produce about 200,000 tons of pig iron annually [6]. The contract for the processing factory was signed on 20.11.2004 [6].

According to the PYO report form 2009, the following five companies have been involved in the project: Tyazhpromexport Co., Ltd. (Russia, state-owned), Kyaw That Company Ltd. (Myanmar), Kanbawza Development Co. Ltd (Burma), Winner Super Diamond Co. Ltd., (Burma) and Myanmar Economic Corporation (Burma). The Italian company Danieli & C. Soa was also believed to be involved, although this information was not confirmed [1,7].

No good data are available on investment size. The PYO report from 2009 mentions that Tyazhpromexport company invested 150 million USD in equipment, while Kanbawza Development Co. Ltd. invested 60 million USD into the Pinpet Cement Factory [1].
Project Area (in hectares)ca. 4,450
Level of Investment (in USD)at least 210,000,000 USD
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population35,000
Start Date2004
Company Names or State EnterprisesMyanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) from Myanmar
Tyazhpromexport Cl., Ltd. from Russian Federation - operator and developer
Winner Super Diamond Co. Ltd (WSD) from Myanmar
Danieli & C. Soa from Italy - believed to be involved [7], but not confirmed.
Kyaw That Company Ltd. from Myanmar
Kanbawza Development Co. Ltd - operates the cement factory
Relevant government actorsBurma's past military regime

Ministry of Mining

Ministry of Industry
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPa-Oh Youth Organization (PYO),

and others
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
ethnic Pa-O groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
OtherSeveral mine workers have died [1]
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
New legislation
Project temporarily suspended
Compensation was insufficient, if available at all.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The mine and the factories were developed with severe social and environmental impacts. (The iron ore processing factory was temporarily suspended. No information on the current state of the factory could be found.)
Sources and Materials

1994 Myanmar Mines Law
[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]


[7] Vignat E., (2014). “Shan State in Myanmar’s Problematic Nation-building and Regional Integration: Conflict and Development”. Chapter in “Transnational Dynamics in Southeast Asia: The Greater Mekong Subregion and Malacca Straits Economic Corridors” (edited by Nathalie Fau, Sirivanh Khonthapane, Christian Taillard). pages 191-220, ISEAS Publishing, Singapore.
[click to view]

[1] PYO 2009 "Robbing the Future: Russian-backed Mining Project Threatens Pa-O Communities in Shan State, Burma". Published by Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO) in June 2009. (accessed online 18.06.2018).
[click to view]


[5] Frontier Myanmar, 20 March 2017 "NLD lawmakers shutter dozens of state factories". (accessed online 18.06.2018).
[click to view]

[4] PYO Press release embargoed for October 27, 2010 "Pa-Oh youth launch campaign to oppose damaging impacts of Burma’slargest iron mine". (accessed online 18.06.2018).
[click to view]

Wikipedia on the Pinpet Mining Project, Myanmar
[click to view]

[3] Myanmar Business Today, 24 April 2016 "Steel Factory in Shan State to Open by July". (accessed online 18.06.2018).
[click to view]

[2] The Ecologist article by Roberts J., 5 Novemeber 2010 "'Thousands threatened' by giant iron mine in Burma". (accessed online 18.06.2018).
[click to view]

[6] Ministry of Industry, webpage on No(2) Steel Mill (Pang Pet). (accessed online 18.06.2018).
[click to view]

Media Links

Video based on the "Robbing the Future" report, update October 2010. (accessed online 18.06.2018).
[click to view]

Video about Pinpet Burma's Largest iron mine and its impacts on local people. (accessed online 18.06.2018).
[click to view]

Other Documents

Steel factory under construction Source:Myanmar Business Today,
[click to view]

Mt. Pinpet before project start Source: PYO 2009 "Robbing the Future: Russian-backed Mining Project Threatens Pa-O Communities in Shan State, Burma". Published by Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO) in June 2009.
[click to view]

Militarization accompanying the construction activities Source: PYO 2009 "Robbing the Future: Russian-backed Mining Project Threatens Pa-O Communities in Shan State, Burma". Published by Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO) in June 2009.
[click to view]

Map of project area (2009)
[click to view]

Cover of the civil society report Source: PYO 2009 "Robbing the Future: Russian-backed Mining Project Threatens Pa-O Communities in Shan State, Burma". Published by Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO) in June 2009.
[click to view]

Temples damaged by the mine development Source: PYO 2009 "Robbing the Future: Russian-backed Mining Project Threatens Pa-O Communities in Shan State, Burma". Published by Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO) in June 2009.
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update20/06/2018