Myanmar to Restart Controversial Copper Project Under Revised Contract
Construction of Myanmar’s controversial Letpadaungtaung Copper mine project is expected to resume under a revised contract signed on July 24 between the government’s Myanmar Mining Enterprise (MME), Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd. and China’s Wanbao Mining Ltd.
Chairman of the Committee for Implementation of the Probe Panel ‘s Report on the project U Hla Tun stressed at a work coordination meeting Friday the absolute need for greater transparency of the revised contract and social responsibility activities in the project area.
Environmental conservation work is to be carried out in order to minimize the harm to environment in line with international standard, he told the meeting, adding that US$ 1-Mwould be used for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.
In addition, 2% of profit is slated for use in regional development after the project comes on stream, especially to help improve education, health care, socio-economic status and environment in the region.
U Hla Tun, who is also minister at the President’s Office, vowed to implement the tasks with the sense of sympathy and understanding of local people and called on the work committee to cooperate with the regional government and local people.
The committee has voiced commitment to boosting the country’s economy and alleviating poverty in the mining area in accordance with the probe panel’s report.
The committee also said that the new deal on the project serves as a good example for foreign investment which calls for responsible investment.
According to the terms of agreement amended on 24 July, the profit sharing ratio between Myanmar Mining Enterprise, Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd. and China’s Wanbao Mining Ltd. has been revised to 51:19:30.
Under the new contract, Myanmar Mine Enterprise will get US$ 5-M from Myanmar Economic Holding, while Wanbao will invest US$ 2-M annually for mine reclamation and also invest US$ 1-M annually for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) before running the production.
All of the investors will use 2 percent of the net profit for CSR as of running of the project, according to the new deal.
U Hla Tun maintained that the new deal has given guarantee that the government enjoys the percentage of the profit that it deserves, job opportunities are created for local people and international standard of environment protection is ensured throughout the commercial production period of the project.
U Hla Tun promised that the committee will try its best to attend to the need of the local people to deal with their grievances.
He called the Letpadaungtaung mining project as a “model project” for the country.
He said the committee has started to return 283.69 acres (114.8 hectares) of land back to farmers and the work was 79% completed.
The committee has already granted nearly 3-B Kyats (US$ 3-M) to 1,037 farmers as compensation for over 2,828 acres of seized land, he said, adding that compensation for the remaining land will follow.
It is also making efforts for getting ISO certificates, signing MOUs on amending previous agreements, rebuilding houses for villagers from removed villages, creating job opportunities for those villages, getting permission for construction of a sulfuric acid plant by the Ministry of Industry, and promoting sectors of education, health care, social works in the project area, he said.
He pointed out that while the government was working in the interest of the state and the people, some people has done instigations causing hindrance to the project and instability in the area.
Letpadaungtaung copper mine project is situated in Monywa, Myanmar’s northwestern Sagaing region. It has been undertaken by the Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd. and the Wanbao Mining Ltd. under the approval of the Ministry of Mines in March 2010 after a Canadian company pulled out 2 yrs ago.
Since February 2012, demonstrations had been taking place intermittently against the continued implementation of the project, interrupting the ongoing project, and the protest escalated in November of the year.
Following the incident, the Myanmar government appointed a probe panel, led by opposition leader and parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi, to investigate into the controversial project. The final report of the panel to the president was released on March 12, which proposed that the project should go on as a best choice for the economic benefit of the nation and the people, and especially for the full benefit of the future generations.
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