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March 03, 2018

Restrictions on mining mounds

Miners search for jade stones at a mine dump at a Hpakant jade mine in Kachin state on 28 November, 2015. Photo: Reuters
Miners search for jade stones at a mine dump at a Hpakant jade mine in Kachin state on 28 November, 2015. Photo: Reuters

As part of the new government’s ‘100-day plan’ the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation is working towards preventing deadly landslides caused from improper dumping of soil left over from mining operations.
U Win Htein, Director-General of Mining Department told Myanmar News Agency yesterday that the frequent deadly landslides in Hpakant have become an “urgent consideration for the government.”
From November 2015 to May 2016, 13 landslides have occurred due to mining companies improperly dumping soil, where migrant workers scavenge through refuge hoping to recover jade.
Local authorities have been enforcing strict rules lately when it has come to dumping, he added.
“Currently, we have suspended issuing licenses to companies, and will make arrangements for systematic mining there,” U Win Htein said.
A total of 37 landslides have occurred in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township, including the 11 November event where 114 migrant miners searching through the refuge were buried under the waste. Most recently on 8 May, thirteen miners were killed in a land slide.
Mining companies and local authorities poorly enforce safety regulations as migrants set up camps near large piles of mining refuge.
In order to prevent further deaths local authorities have attempted to move “at-risk” camps to “safe areas,” so that mining companies may dispose of wasted soil in accordance with ‘technical safety regulations’.
“This year, tight restrictions have been placed on dumping soil, changing our previous practice so as to ensure landslides do not occur,” Daw Ni Lar Myint, of Hpakant Township General Administration Department, told The Global New Light of Myammar.
Mining companies began using heavy machinery to extract jade in Myanmar as of 2005. Due to the fast extraction a deluge of migrants descended upon mining operations – seeing migrant numbers jump from an estimated 20,000 in 2012 to approximately 300,000 in 2015.
According to the Department of Mines, under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, as of 30 November 2015: 627 mining companies operate on 7,714 plots throughout the country. While 231 companies share 311 other plots, these are small-scale productions.
As of 2000 mining companies must surrender 25 percent of their income to the government.—Myanmar News Agency  w/GNLM


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