Burma

Coal-Powered Cement Plant Starts Production Despite Local Opposition

By Hintharnee 16 June 2017

MOULMEIN, Mon State — A 5000-ton cement factory has started commercial operations in Kyaikmayaw Township, Mon State, despite opposition from locals over the coal-fired plant that will fuel it.

Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan confirmed on Thursday the US$400 million project, run by Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL)—a joint venture between Thai firm Siam Cement Group (SCG) and Pacific Link Cement Industries—will be fueled by a coal-fired power plant built within the compound.

According to officials of Mon State’s Myanmar Port Authority, nearly 200,000 tons of coal has been shipped from Moulmein Port to the plant along the Attaran River. Locals fear the plant will pollute the area and have protested about a lack of consultation.

Mon State Parliament Deputy Speaker Dr. Aung Naing Oo has called for new environmental and social impact assessments (EIA/SIA) in accordance with the environmental conservation regulations introduced by the government in 2015, but the state Chief Minister U Aye Zan said the EIA/SIA report published in 2014 was still valid.

“The government introduced environmental conservation regulations in 2015, which specified more details. But they conducted the EIA/SIA report at that time, so it is valid,” U Aye Zan told reporters after the state Parliament session on Thursday.

On Feb. 18, about 7,000 locals from seven villages near the factory staged a protest against the coal-fired power plant. In April last year, locals sent a petition with 3,780 signatures to the President’s Office, demanding the termination of the coal-fired power plant project.

Lawmaker Min Aung Mun of Kyaikmayaw Township (2) asked about the contribution of profits from MCL cement factory to regional development funds during a state Parliament session on June 15.

In the contract signed with the previous government, the company agreed to donate 2 percent of its profits one year after it had broken even, said the lawmaker.

But Min Htan Aung Han, the state minister for electricity, energy, and industry, replied that the plant started production on April 1 but had not yet profited, meaning contributions toward regional development had not been made.

Lawmakers have complained the contract does not specify how long it would take for the company to break even.

Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan said he would review the contract and coordinate with the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) to amend it if necessary.

“I think [lawmakers] misinterpret the contract. Perhaps it means 2 percent of annual profits will be contributed,” he told the press.

According to minister Min Htan Aung Han, MCL spent 62 million kyats in 2014, 1.6 billion kyats in 2015, 323 million kyats in 2016 and 338 million kyats in 2017 on corporate social responsibility works since it started the project in 2014.

Raw materials for the cement factory come from Mt. Pyataung in Kyaikmayaw Township.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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