Govt Still Studying Controversial Nickel Mine in Chin State: Minister

 Chin state, mining, natural resources

A local resident reads posters put up by a Chinese mining company giving information about a planned nickel-mining project in Chin State’s Tedim Township. (Photo: Chinland Natural Resources Watch Group)

RANGOON — Burma’s Deputy Minister for Mines Than Tun Aung has told the Upper House on Wednesday that his ministry has yet to approve a controversial nickel mine project, located on the border of Chin State and Sagaing Division, state-owned media reported.

Than Tun Aung said his ministry was still studying the result of a feasibility study conducted with the permission of the Myanmar Investment Commission by North Mining Investment Co Ltd, a Hong Kong-based firm, according to The New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

In 2012, the firm began carrying out a feasibility study into nickel deposits at Mwe Mountain, which cover parts of Sagaing’s Kalay Township and Chin State’s Teddim Township, areas located close to the Burma-India border, and in 2013 it reportedly submitted the results to the Ministry of Mines and the Environment Ministry.

Than Tun Aung told lawmakers “that the mining project will be implemented only after approval by the experts in a transparent consultation with the state government, the regional government and the local people to avoid future problems,” state media reported.

The deputy minister said the feasibility study estimates that there are 42 million tons of metal ore at the proposed mining site, composed of 1.37 percent nickel, 16.32 percent iron, 0.88 percent chromium, 21.72 per cent magnesium dioxide and 39.46 percent silica.

Chin political parties and activists have spoken out at against the massive project since last year. They demand that the government releases more project information, ensures that environmental safeguards are put in place for the project and allocates a share of its profits to Chin State, which is considered Burma’s most impoverished region.

In January, China activists and residents of Teddim Township said they were growing increasingly concerned about the project and its potential environmental impacts on communities, after company representatives visited more than 15 villages and met with the locals to explain the project.

North Mining Investment Co Ltd told locals that it expected the project—which reportedly requires financing of close to US$500 million—would begin this year. Hand-outs and posters distributed by the firm claimed the mine would benefit local communities, contribute $500,000 a year to the development of Chin State, and bring jobs to the area.

In addition to the mine, the firm would also build two smelters to process the nickel ore and a dock at Kalaywa on the Chindwin River in Sagaing Division, from where the ferronickel concentrates would be transported on to Rangoon and China, where there is a strong demand for nickel.

3 Responses to Govt Still Studying Controversial Nickel Mine in Chin State: Minister

  1. This is a huge, rich deposit every mining firm would mouth-water.
    Yes, mining is for development, but it better, in addition to contributing to local funds, guarantees by law-abiding and commitment to eliminate or reduce to permissible levels, by world standards, of work-site and environmental safety and health hazards. The government must guarantee by law and law enforcement its own state-of-the art performance in these aspects of the mining activities.

  2. The mine life of that proposed open pit mine is actually hidden.At least it will extract the nickel ore over 30 yrs including the yrs of developing the mine area.They will seem to extend mine operating years and put more investment on that project later
    The power plant is 4000 MW ,so hugh that it is a little half over the power plant of now-stalled Dawei Economic Zone.It will be coal fired.
    There are also 2 smelters that are supposed to be built nearby the mining site.
    The giant furnaces in the smelters will produce byproduct called..slags just like ash.It will be difficult to store mountain of slags safely. when the wind blows the slags will be spread the whole environment like Namtu smelter near Lashio.
    The slurries from mine tailings and the waste water of smelters will flow down to lower area of the mountain polluting all the streams.And more over the fumes released from the smokestacks of the power plant and 2 smelters will definitely pollute our air.
    To feed the power plant running the coal from Thitchaut coal mine near the town of Kalewa will be used .Hauling large amount of coal makes all the passing area blacken with coal dusts.
    Actually that project will destroy our forests because of acid rain formed by CO2 and other toxic matters and threaten the livelyhoods of all the habitats.
    In conclusion ,it doesnt take very long before the Chin people will figure out the impact of the nickel mine.

  3. Felt just like the Chinese mining company and its partner trying to put a nickel ( US 5 cent coin ) in each chin’s pocket for a year.
    We cannot argue that our existence is mainly connected with conservation of our environments.

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