Illegal mining for metals in the Danu Self-Administered Zone in southern Shan State has angered locals, who are demanding that the activities halt and that they be compensated for their damaged farmland.
The mining has been taking place on a hilltop near Tha Phan Pin village in the Lin Way village tract of Ywar Ngan Township, which lies in the same district as the state capital, Taunggyi. The site is around two hours from Ywar Ngan town.
Locals allege that the companies involved—the Burmese and Chinese-operated GPS Joint Venture Co., Ltd., and the Herbon Star company—are not actually allowed to extract minerals in Ywar Ngan Township.
“The GPS company admitted that they have extracted metal without official permission. The extraction license of the Herbon Star company already expired, but the company continues to extract metal in the area,” Tha Phan Pin local Kyaw Tin told SHAN.
Ywar Ngan parliamentarian Aung Soe Min confirmed the allegations put forward by locals—that the GPS Joint Venture Company did not have a permit to mine, and that Herbon Star’s license expired in May.
“We have yet to know who owns these companies,” he told SHAN.
GPS Joint Venture arrived in Tha Phan Pin after constructing a road to the area in July, and then began digging for metal.
Thirty locals and two monks conducted observations of the mining activities and shared photos of damaged farmland on Facebook to try to bring about action to stop the mineral extraction.
A Ywar Ngan Township officer from the General Administration Department reportedly promised locals he would follow up on the allegations and visit the mining area, as well as take action against any illegal activities.
“Actually, he has never taken action against it,” Kyaw Tin added.
Locals in Tha Phan Pin say that the digging for metal is ongoing today, despite lawmakers’ calls for them to stop.
“When I went to observe the mining area on October 6, I saw 100-foot long ditches. They had already closed some of the ditches. Local people said that there are three to four trenches,” parliamentarian Aung Soe Min told SHAN.
The more than 20 workers on the site appeared to be Chinese nationals rather than local hires, both Aung Soe Min and Kyaw Tin said.
There may be up to five companies mining for metals throughout Ywar Ngan Township without permission, locals fear.