Chinese Prospectors Stake a Claim in Arakan State

A boy exercises on a beach as ships involved in the construction of the Yadana underwater gas pipeline project in southern Burma are moored in the background. (Photo: Reuters)

A boy exercises on a beach as ships involved in the construction of the Yadana underwater gas pipeline project in southern Burma are moored in the background. (Photo: Reuters)

A Chinese company has been given permission to test sand in northern Arakan State for suspected deposits of aluminum and titanium, raising concerns among local people about the possible impact of a mining operation in the area.

The state’s mining minister, Aung Than Tin, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that the company is testing sand found along the coasts of Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships for the valuable metals, and said that “if the tests are successful, the project will continue.”

The company, called Shwe Shapweye (“Gold Finder”) in Burmese, received permission to prospect along the Ale Than Kyaw beach in Maungdaw and Angu Maw beach in Rathedaung from Naypyidaw, he added.

Local residents say that Chinese companies first started making exploratory digs in the two areas in 2010, leaving behind gaping holes and large piles of sand that have since caused mudslides.

“The collapse of these sand pits has damaged the beaches,” said Ko Ko Maung, a resident of Rathedaung township, who added that there has recently been an increase in the number of Chinese businesspeople visiting the area.

The Chinese first started coming in 2010 in search of natural gas and petroleum, he said, but instead discovered deposits of aluminum and titanium.

The return of Chinese business interests to the area has prompted local groups to threaten protests if there is any danger of further environmental damage.

A member of Rakhine National Network told The Irrawaddy that “if the project is not helpful for the local residents and there is a significant negative impact on the environment, we will object to it, because other projects operating in Rakhine [Arakan] State have brought no benefits to local people.”

State Mining Minister Aung Than Tin said the state government will act in accordance with the locals’ desires, but added that “the project is still at a very early stage, and we have not made any decision yet.”

4 Responses to Chinese Prospectors Stake a Claim in Arakan State

  1. Where the Rohingya have failed in driving out the Rakhine from the colonial times on (the British left), the Chinese stand a better chance to succeed coming from a position of wealth and power in collusion. The country is being carved out for exploitation of human resources and extraction of mineral resources. And for whose benefit? Prosperity for the few at the expense of the people and the land.

  2. So stupid Rohingyas (sorry, I meant Bengalis) out, greedy Chinese in.
    That’s seems to be the obvious strategy in Arakan State.
    Good luck with that (as if Chinese cooper mines, jade mines, gas pipelines are not enough!)

  3. Ali Baba and forty thieves are not wanted. China is Ali and fory thieves are Thein Sein and associates.

  4. This sure is like a “Moke-hso-ma” house. Selling out the “ein-taing” as well.

    So when are these idiots begin to understand that the country is NOT for them to sell out to all and sundry and the current peaceful putting up with them is simply a little bit prolonged by mesmerization of Aung San Suu Kyi of previously unknown nature who people rightly and naively thought to be on their side.. Now that card is used, next move will be from the people. It is going to be….

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