August 19, 2016


Mines Ministry considers three plans to prevent landslide casualties

Panoramic view of Hpakant in Kachin State. Photo:
Panoramic view of Hpakant in Kachin State. Photo:

IN an effort to prevent future deaths around jade mines, the Ministry of Mines is considering three strategies: banning jade mining in Lonkhin and Hpakant; imposing a curfew on the mine areas; or putting the at-risk areas under martial law in order to enforce the rule of law there.
In response to a question at Pyidaungsu Hluttaw yesterday over landslides of dumped soil causing casualities, using heavy machinery in jade mining and over-exploration of natural resources harming local people, Deputy Minister for Mines U Than Tun Aung said union ministries, the Kachin State government, the Tatmadaw and armed groups will cooperate in order to enforce the rule of law in the area. He said it is necessary to evict squatters and to systematically manage jade mining in Lonkhin and Hpakant in accordance with the by-laws of the Myanmar Gems Law.
The Ministry is also coordinating with the Myanmar Gems Entrepreneurs Association to set up mechanical equipment to extract jade instead of putting labourers at risk.
According to the statistics of the Myanma Gems Enterprise up to 30 November, there are 1,872 backhoes and 3,327 dumpers in total in Lonkhin and Hpakant.
Shortcomings in following safety regulations by both mining companies and migrant squatters pose challenges for local authorities in preventing future landslides around jade mines in Kachin State, according to local authorities in Hpakant.
Since the deadly landslides last month, local authorities have conducted routine checks of the at-risk areas, issuing an order to evict the squatters and erecting warning signboards.
The authorities blame both migrant workers and mining companies for not fully cooperating with them by not moving from the at-risk areas and by dumping waste soil haphazardly.
There are currently around 200,000 squatters in Hpakant Township.—GNLM


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