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Hpa-An coal plant, Karen state, Myanmar


Energy has been one of the main concerns in Myanmar since the country opened up to foreign investment in 2012 and the government has been focusing on increasing production to meet the new demand. Even though some of the projects were already on the table, the government and companies are pushing to get approval for controversial hydroelectric projects and coal plants across the country. Some of these projects have followed the signature of peace deals with rebels groups [1], even though many of them are rejected by the ethnic groups.

One of these projects is the 1,280 MW coal plant that has been proposed in Hpa-An, the capital of Karen state, an area where the Karen National Union (KNU) and its army branch, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), have been fighting against the central Myanmar government since the 1940s. The plant was proposed after another similar project located in Inn Din, in Mon state, south of Karen state, was canceled due to the local rejection (see related conflicts, below).

In April 2017, the Kayin state government signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct a feasibility study [2] with the Thai construction company TTCL Public Co Ltd, a joint venture between Italian-Thai Development, which holds a 51 percent stake, and Japanese company Toyo Engineering Corporation, which holds 49 percent [3]. According to this agreement, the plant would cover 333 hectares (825 acres) on the Thanlwin (Salween) River, about 20 miles north of downtown Hpa-An, and would cost US$2.8 billion.

The project raised concerns among the local populations, that have rejected the plant [4]. Thus, in June 2017, 42 Kayin State-based civil society organisations and 130 other CSOs issued a statement opposing the project [5]. In October 2017, the Karen state government approved the project and signed a joint venture with TTCL [6]. In November 2017, protesters were stopped when they tried to demonstrate against the plant [7].

In March 2018, the central government in Naypyidaw announced that they would not support the coal plant [8]. However, the state government didn’t follow, raising concerns among the local communities that they would not respect the government decision [8] and 131 local organisations and residents signed a letter with three requests to the Union Government: to cancel all proposed and suspended coal-fired power plants, to pass a national moratorium on coal power plants, and to promote and regulate the implementation of sustainable renewable energy projects [5].

According to Greenpeace [9], the Myanmar government is planning on an alarming increase in coal plants to provide all the country’s energy needs by 2030. If all planned coal-fired power plants start to operate, Myanmar’s SO2 emissions from energy use would be projected to increase 7-fold, and NO2 to triple, the organization says in a report released on the issue. The report also points out that Myanmar’s coal power plant emissions would be responsible for a total of 7,100 premature deaths each year, or 280,000 premature deaths if these plants operate for 40 years.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Hpa-An coal plant, Karen state, Myanmar
State or province:Karen state
Location of conflict:Hpa-An
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Coal

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Capacity: 1,280-megawatt (MW) [3,7].

Area: 815 acres (330 hectares) [10]

Coal used: 4 million tonnes/year [11]

Hpa-An town has a population of about 400,000, while around 800,000 people live in Hpa-An district. [12]

The plant was planned to be fully operational in 2024 before it was canceled.

Project area:330
Level of Investment:2,800,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:400,000-800,000
Start of the conflict:02/04/2017
Company names or state enterprises:Toyo Engineering Corporation (Toyo) from Japan
Toyo-Thai Public Co. Ltd (TTPCL) (TTPCL) from Thailand
Italian-Thai Development Public Company Limited (Italthai) from Thailand
Relevant government actors:Myanmar Government
Ministry of Electricity and Energy
Karen State Government
and others
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:EarthRights International (,
Coal Working Group, Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability,
Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN -
and others

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsExposure to pollution
Premature deaths due to pollution
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:The local NGOs are proposing to cancel all proposed and suspended coal-fired power plants, to pass a national moratorium on coal power plants, and to promote and regulate the implementation of sustainable renewable energy projects
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The central government in Naypyidaw announced that they wouldn't support the project. However, the regional government has not followed up.

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

2015 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedure

2012 Environmental Conservation Law

2012 Foreign Investment Law

2014 Myanmar Electricity Law

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[4] Power games over Kayin coal-fired plant, Frontier Myanmar, April 26, 2018

[9] Cancelling Myanmar’s new coal plants could save 7,100 lives a year, Greenpeace, press release, May 4, 2017

[8] Nay Pyi Taw scraps Hpa-An coal power plant, communities urge Kayin govt to follow suit, Myanmar Times, April 5, 2018

[5] Kayin residents fear coal plant may go ahead, The Myanmar Times, April 9, 2018

[3] TTCL plans two power plants in Myanmar worth $6 bn, The Nation, June 10, 2017

[1] Govt, KNU sign ceasefire, The Myanmar Times, Jan 16, 2012

[7] Anti-coal power plant protesters stopped in Kayin, the Myanmar Times, November 10, 2017

[6] TTCL will build a 1.3 GW coal-fired power plant in Kayin (Myanmar), Enerdata, October 21, 2017

[2] Divisions harden over coal power plant in Kayin State, January 22, 2018

[10] Myanmar Official Says Hpa-An Coal Plant Cancelled, Earth Rights International, April 4, 2018

[11] Letter No.TTCL-FIN-CS-018/2560, Signing of Joint Venture and Land Lease Agreement, October 27, 2017

[12] The 2014 Myanmar Population and Housing Census, Kayin State, Hpa-an district, Hpa-an Township Report, Department of Population,

Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, October 2017

Meta information

Contributor:Laura Villadiego, Carro de Combate, [email protected]
Last update19/11/2018



Sign asking for the cancellation of the Hpa-An coal power plant

A poster was erected to demand immediate cancellation of proposed coal-fired power plant project and temporarily-suspended projects in Hpa-an, Kayin State. Source: Eleven Myanmar,

Protesters against the coal power plant in Hpa-An

Protesters against the coal power plant in Hpa-An. Earth Rights International (

A 'No-coal' sign opposing the Hpa-An power plant in Thone Eain village

A 'No-coal' sign opposing the Hpa-An power plant in Thone Eain village. Source: The Myanmar Times.