Platinum mining in Eastern Shan State, Myanmar

The Lahu Women Organization denounced the ‘grab for white gold’ in Eastern Shan State and called upon the government to stop the socially and environmentally destructive mining.


Platinum mining has been taking place in the hills north of Tachilek in Shan State, Myanmar since 2007. The precious metal commodity, commonly used in industrial applications and finest jewelry, is mined by several Burmese companies before it is exported to China and Thailand. A civil society report entitled “Grab for White Gold: Platinum Mining in Eastern Shan State”, published in 2012 by the Lahu Women Organization (LWO), has exposed human rights abuses and destruction of livelihood resources by these platinum mines. This EJatlas entry summarizes the main findings of this civil society report [1] and related press coverage [2].

See more...
Basic Data
NamePlatinum mining in Eastern Shan State, Myanmar
ProvinceShan State
SiteAh Yeh village, 13 km north of Tachilek
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Specific CommoditiesPlatinum
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAccording to the report, five companies operated around Ah Yeh village in 2012 [1]. According to a news article, in total about 15 companies were active in the area [2].

Sai Laung Hein Company was with about 200 workers the largest miner in 2012. It is a Burmese company, known to have Chinese backing. The company was reported to transport about 5,000 tons of ore per month out of the area during 2011 [1].

Myint U Aung (Moe Seit Mwe) Company began operations in 2009 and employed about 50 workers during 2011 [1].

The three companies Hein Lay Say Company, San Baramee Company (Ministry of Mines No. 3) and Wonna Thein Than Company began surveying the area in 2011, with a workforce of about 20 workers each [1].

According to the 2012 report, platinum ore is extracted by the Burmese mining companies and exported to China and Thailand at a price of 3,000 USD a ton [1].

The villages reported to be affected were: Ah Yey, Kyaw Taw, Mae Kaw Wan, Ma Mon Ta (1), Ma Mon Ta (2), Ma Mon Ta (3), Ha Kya, and Ma Oh San Khan [1].
Project Area (in hectares)unknown
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population2,000
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesSai Laung Hein Company from Myanmar - mining company
Sann Baramee Co. from Myanmar - mining company
Wanna Thein Than Co. from Myanmar - mining company
Myint U Aung (Moe Seit Mwe) Company from Myanmar - mining company
Hein Lay Say Company from Myanmar - mining company
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLahu Women's Organisation (LWO)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
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
ethnic Shan, Akha and Lahu communities
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Otherincreased exposure to polluted water sources
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Specific impacts on women, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
compensation was reportedly insufficient, or absent [1]
Development of AlternativesIn 2012, the Lahu Women Organization made the following recommendations (see [1]):

To the Burmese government

• To order all the mining companies to immediately stop their mining operations in the Ah Yeh village area.

• To order and ensure that the companies provide adequate compensation for the damage already caused to villagers’ property, and to restore the terrain as much as possible to its former state.

To local communities

• To take action to protect their lands and livelihoods from these destructive mining operations.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.No information could be found on the current status of the mines
Sources and Materials

1994 Myanmar Mines Law
[click to view]

2012 Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management 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]


[1] Lahu Women Organization (LWO), 2012. "Grab for White Gold: Platinum Mining in Eastern Shan State". (accessed on 19.10.2018).
[click to view]


[2] The Irrawaddy, 8 May 2012. "Platinum Mines Seize 200 Acres of Farmland". (accessed on 19.10.2018).
[click to view]

Other Documents

Report cover Source: Lahu Women Organization (LWO), 2012.
[click to view]

Bulldozers at a mining site Source: Lahu Women Organization (LWO), 2012.
[click to view]

Company signboards Source: Lahu Women Organization (LWO), 2012.
[click to view]

Degraded road Source: Lahu Women Organization (LWO), 2012.
[click to view]

Village affected by mines Source: Lahu Women Organization (LWO), 2012.
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update22/10/2018