Ministry Requests Monthly Reports on Coal-powered Cement Plant in Mon State
By Hintharnee 28 June 2017
YANGON — The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation has instructed the Mon State government to submit monthly environmental impact assessment reports regarding a 500-ton cement factory in Mon State’s Kyaikmayaw Township that is powered by a coal-fired power plant.
Union minister of natural resources and environmental conservation U Ohn Win left the instruction for the divisional ministry after he inspected the factory on Saturday.
The US$400 million cement factory is run by Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL) – a joint venture between Thai firm Siam Cement Group (SCG) and Pacific Link Cement Industries.
The factory started commercial operations in April despite local opposition. 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 project.
“We are not demanding that the factory is shut down, but we don’t want coal. Unless and until they switch from coal to a different fuel, we will continue to protest,” said U Shwe Win, a member of a local community group named after Mt. Pyataung from which raw materials for the cement factory come.
Under the agreement with the Myanmar Investment Commission, the factory will operate for 50 years from the start of commercial operations.
Locals said they accepted the cement factory project because they hoped that it would create jobs and spur regional development, but they did not know that it would be powered by coal.
Locals told The Irrawaddy that they only found out when the factory began trial operations in 2015 and staged demonstrations consequently.
Minister U Min Kyi Win said the Mon State government would purchase equipment worth 75 million kyats to measure air, water and noise pollution.
Kyaikmayaw Township lawmaker Min Aung Mun in Mon State Parliament said that MCL had distributed 3,500 tons of cement to Yangon and it also distributed to Mawlamyine in Mon State.
The Irrawaddy was unable to reach MCL executive officer U Zaw Lin Oo for comment.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.