Aurasian Confirms Withdrawn Mining Permit Was for Kachin State

By Seamus Martov 18 September 2015

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — London based Aurasian Minerals Plc has confirmed that mining exploration applications submitted by the firm last December to Burmese authorities were for locations in conflict-ridden Kachin state.

In a statement sent to The Irrawaddy, following a report earlier this month that the company had decided to withdraw its applications, Aurasian vice-president Jon Loraine said that the decision had been motivated by the delay in passing a new Mining Law. He added that the ongoing peace process between the government and the Kachin Independence Orgnization (KIO) was another issue of concern for the firm.

“Our perspective is that resolving these matters will take some time and that [Aurasian] would be better focusing its efforts elsewhere where progress can be made in a more reasonable timeframe”, he said.

An update to the 1994 Mining Law, which will greatly improve ease of entry and operation for foreign firms, is expected to be enacted in the near future. It remains far from clear when the ongoing conflict in Kachin State will end, with reports that Kachin rebels will not join other ethnic armed groups to sign the government’s nationwide ceasefire agreement next month.

In a January update to shareholders issued via the London Stock Exchange, Aurasian said that three mineral exploration permits applications covering a total area of 1,900 square kilometers (734 square miles) had been submitted for an unspecified area in Burma, in sites subject to existing jade mining concessions. The statement added that the applications were pending “due to the current security situation in the relevant areas.”

The only known jade mining areas in Burma are in Kachin state’s Hpakant township, a site of frequent clashes since a 17-year ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the government collapsed in June 2011.

Aurasian is not the only foreign mining firm to have applied for mineral exploitation permits in conflict-plagued areas of Burma.

Asia Pacific Mining Limited, (APML), a Hong Kong-based firm headed by a veteran of the Australian mining industry, recently submitted permits to explore for lead, zinc and silver in northern Shan State. In October 2014, days after APML’s explortation permit was approved by Burmese authorities, deadly clashes broke out near the concession area.

Clashes between government forces, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and their allies from the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) have been ongoing in volatile northern Shan State for much of the year.