Gold Miners Claim Victory after Demands Granted

By Zarni Mann 14 June 2012

More than a thousand gold miners called off a weeks-long protest on Thursday after their demands to restart work were granted by their parent company.

“The company agreed to 95 percent of our demands. Finally we achieved what we deserve and will call off the protest and will leave the area late this evening,” said Than Lwin, one of the miners.

Demonstrators spent the last two days surrounded by the Burmese authorities at Shwe Myin Tin Pagoda Compound in Yamaething Township, Mandalay Division, while attempting to march on Naypyidaw.

Miners set off by foot on Monday from the Moehit Moemi mining area to Yamaethin, a distance of some 40 miles (64 km), where they stopped to rest at the monastery en route to the capital.

Demands to be allowed to continue mining, compensation for loss of earnings and investment, access to mining machinery and to be allowed to continue working on a profit-sharing basis as before were all granted by the Myanmar National Prosperity Public Company (MNPPC), according to the miners.

“Now we have signed agreements with the [MNPPC] President Soe Tun Shein. We will later leave from here after the celebratory religious ceremony with sermon by monks and abbots,” added Than Lwin.

Tens of thousands of gold miners staged a protest earlier in June after MNPPC told them to halt work in the 6,000-acre Moehti Moemi area on May 5.

Miners accused MNPPC of reneging on a verbal agreement with around a thousand small mining companies and individual miners in December 2011 which allowed them to excavate gold for the duration of its five-year government contract.