Showing posts with label EV Myanmar Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EV Myanmar Business. Show all posts

Mining Firms Line Up for Chin State Operations

The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (Jan. 10, 2015)


Burma Offshore Gas Project Faces Axe
One of Burma’s most promising offshore oil and gas projects is on an investment cancellation list drawn up by developer PTTEP if global oil prices continue their fall.
The Thai state-owned oil company said its M3 Block in the Gulf of Martaban, where promising gas discoveries have been made, is one of five foreign investments now facing the axe.
“If average oil prices fall to $55 a barrel, PTTEP and the PTT group may adjust investment plans. We could put a brake on [Burma’s] M3 projects,” PTTEP chief executive Tevin Vongvanich told a Press briefing in Bangkok this week.
PTTEP signed a production-sharing contract with Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise in 2004 and has carried out surveys and some exploratory drilling in the 6,200 square kilometre (2,400 square mile) sea block.
As the operator of the block with an 80% ownership PTTEP was scheduled to “continue a drilling campaign preparation for 5 appraisal wells and 1 exploration well” in 2015, the firm said on its website.
PTTEP’s minority partner with 20% is Mitsui Oil, a Japanese company.
The M3 Block is in the same area as the Zawtika gas field which is also managed by PTTEP and began producing natural gas in 2014. Burma is receiving about 50 million cubic feet of gas per day from Zawtika but the bulk of production, about 250 million cubic feet per day, goes to Thailand.
Uncertainty over PTTEP’s M3 project coincides with concerns that the 5-year low global oil price may also affect some of the production sharing contracts currently being negotiated in Burma for 20 new offshore blocks. Licenses were granted last March to a number of foreign oil companies but to date only one has been converted into an actual exploration contract.
Japan ‘Ignores Land Rights Issues’ in Haste to Invest in Burma
Japanese companies have been accused of putting business before local rights in Burma in Tokyo’s “attempt to curtail China’s influence in Asia”.
Aided by the government-funded Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), companies have brushed aside land ownership rights, notably at the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ), a report in the Wall Street Journal said.
“Haste and irresponsibility have so far undermined Japan’s reputation as a friendly regional neighbor and have the potential to derail Burma’s fragile peace process while exacerbating human rights concerns,” it alleged, under the headline ‘Japan’s Misadventures in Burma’.
The report was written by two analysts with the Burma Partnership, a collection of Burmese and foreign rights groups campaigning for democratic development.
The Thilawa SEZ involves Japanese corporation heavyweights Marubeni, Mitsubishi and Sumitomo, but “villagers have been forced to make way…often through coercion by Burmese authorities”.
“Around 300 people have already been relocated and thousands more will have to move during future phases of the project in return for inadequate compensation, poor quality housing, reduced livelihood opportunities and worsening access to essential services,” said report authors Rin Fujimatsu and Alex Moodie.
The report said the Burmese business partners in Thilawa working with the Japanese corporations are led by a man still on the US sanctions list, Dagon Win Aung.
JICA is also involved in industrial project plans in Karen and Mon states where “resources remain heatedly contested,” the report said.
UN human rights representative Yanghee Lee will include issues relating to theft of land, or poor compensation for land taken for commercial developments, as well as the suppression of public protests against development projects, during her visit to Burma. She is in the country until Jan. 16.
Mining Firms Line Up for Chin State Operations
Surveys by a “joint task force” are being carried out in Chin State following applications for mining operations, a report said.
“We are surveying the areas where about 26 mining companies have applied to conduct exploration in Chin State. If the companies ensure transparency, and the operations are beneficial to the local communities which also give their consent, we intend to approve them,” state mining and forestry minister Kyaw Nyein, was quoted by Myanmar Business Today saying.
Chin State has nickel, chromite, iron, copper, aluminium and limestone reserves, the minister said. However, he conceded that only the Naypyidaw government has authority to issue mining permits.
There is ongoing local opposition to a project by a Chinese firm to extract nickel from the Mway and Phar mountains in the Tedim township area.

Govt Still Studying Controversial Nickel Mine in Chin State: Minister

Burma’s Deputy Minister for Mines Than Tun Aung has told the Upper House on Wednesday that his ministry has yet to approve a controversial nickel mine project, located on the border of Chin State and Sagaing Division, state-owned media reported.
Than Tun Aung said his ministry was still studying the result of a feasibility study conducted with the permission of the Myanmar Investment Commission by North Mining Investment Co Ltd, a Hong Kong-based firm, according to The New Light of Myanmar newspaper.
In 2012, the firm began carrying out a feasibility study into nickel deposits at Mwe Mountain, which cover parts of Sagaing’s Kalay Township and Chin State’s Teddim Township, areas located close to the Burma-India border, and in 2013 it reportedly submitted the results to the Ministry of Mines and the Environment Ministry.
Than Tun Aung told lawmakers “that the mining project will be implemented only after approval by the experts in a transparent consultation with the state government, the regional government and the local people to avoid future problems,” state media reported.
The deputy minister said the feasibility study estimates that there are 42 million tons of metal ore at the proposed mining site, composed of 1.37 percent nickel, 16.32 percent iron, 0.88 percent chromium, 21.72 per cent magnesium dioxide and 39.46 percent silica.
Chin political parties and activists have spoken out at against the massive project since last year. They demand that the government releases more project information, ensures that environmental safeguards are put in place for the project and allocates a share of its profits to Chin State, which is considered Burma’s most impoverished region.
In January, China activists and residents of Teddim Township said they were growing increasingly concerned about the project and its potential environmental impacts on communities, after company representatives visited more than 15 villages and met with the locals to explain the project.
North Mining Investment Co Ltd told locals that it expected the project—which reportedly requires financing of close to US$500 million—would begin this year. Hand-outs and posters distributed by the firm claimed the mine would benefit local communities, contribute $500,000 a year to the development of Chin State, and bring jobs to the area.
In addition to the mine, the firm would also build two smelters to process the nickel ore and a dock at Kalaywa on the Chindwin River in Sagaing Division, from where the ferronickel concentrates would be transported on to Rangoon and China, where there is a strong demand for nickel.

Chinese-Backed Nickel Mining Project Draws Concerns in Chin State

TEDIM TOWNSHIP, Chin State — A planned nickel-mining project in the mountains of Burma’s poorest state is causing concern among locals worried about its environmental impact.
Activists and people living in the area in Chin State’s Tedim Township say the Chinese-owned North Mining Investment Company, which began conducting surveys for the project in 2012, is not giving concrete information about the impacts mining would have.
“The company just said that the mountain and the environment will not be harmed due to the mining process,” Cin Tang, a local village chief, told The Irrawaddy.
“On the other hand, they said they will use an open cut mining method, and will dig 45 meters deep. How can they say the environment will not be harmed in the region if they will dig and produce many tons of rocks and stones over years?”
According to Burma’s Ministry of Mining, a preliminary survey for the nickel mining project on an area covering Mwe Mountain and Phar Mountain was completed December 2012, and construction on two purifying factories is scheduled to start in early 2014.
Representatives of North Mining Investment have reportedly visited more than 15 villages and met with the locals to explain the project. Hand-outs and posters distributed by the mining company make grand claims for the benefits of the project to the local area, and play down any potential downsides.
The posters also say that the $486.7 million project will produce purified nickel and iron, and will contribute US$500,000 a year to the development of Chin State, and bring jobs to the area, once it is up and running.
Electricity produced that exceeds the needs of the project will be distributed for free for a year to people living within 5 kilometers of the project.
They claim the process of purifying the nickel will not use chemicals or acid.
While omitting mention of any negative impacts, the materials say the company’s factories will use about 530,000 tons of coal per year for heating and to produce electricity. And in order to filter sulphur dioxide, it will use about 50,000 tons of limestone, the literature says.
The company also says it will build a dock at Kalaywa on the Chindwin River in Sagaing Division. The mine will produce ferronickel concentrates, which will be transported to the port, and shipped, via the Irrawaddy River, to Rangoon and then to China, the company says.
Despite the public relations efforts, locals are concerned they will face the same problems as the residents affected by the controversial Chinese-backed copper mining project at Letpadaung in central Burma. That project was recently restarted, with more favorable terms for the Burmese government, after public outrage and protests led to its suspension.
“They [North Mining Investment] said the first contract of project is just for seven years and six months. After that, the region will get everything that is left from the project. But who knows, maybe this Mwe Mountain will disappear, just as Sabae and Kyaesin mountains did at the Letpadaung copper mine,” said Cin Tang.
“I can’t imagine how much the air, water and our land will be polluted. They said our villages will not be displaced, but if the forest is destroyed and if our lands are polluted, we will have to find a new place on our own. Then there is no difference between this and being forcibly displaced.”
No clear-cut guarantees have been made by the company or the local government about environmental conservation efforts.
“The company repeatedly just says how much and what kind of help it will give to the region, and how their project will develop the region,” said Har Tuang, a member of Chinland Natural Resources Watch Group. “But they have failed to give a guarantee on how they will deal with the pollution, which would affect the economic, health and social life of the region.”
Locals and activists filed complaints to the Chin State government in 2013, urging it not to allow mining in the area.
“The state government said that they do not have the power to decide on this matter, only the Union government has,” said Zam Thuam, also a member of Chinland Natural Resources Watch Group.
The group has submitted a complaint to Naypyidaw after meeting with the state government in end of 2013 to review the project.
Meanwhile, the illegal trading of stone from Mwe Mountain and Phar Mountain has fueled a popular market in Kalay Myo, upper Sagaing Division, since mid-2013 as some Chinese traders have already begun moving into the area.
“Actually, the state government must handle such illegal trade. We can only educate the locals but we also do not want them to be arrested for unlawful acts. But this is just for their living, so we have nothing to say about this. It is like the state government is creating misunderstanding between the locals and the activists,” said Liantuang, another member of Chinland Natural Resources Watch Group.
About 1.5kg of stone is priced from 2,000 Kyats to 4,000 kyats ($2-$4) and is reportedly traded through Shan State and across the Sino-Burmese border.
“If the project is for the development of the country, we have no reason to oppose. But we see nothing concerning the development of our country or the region in this project,” Liantuang said.
“That’s why we don’t want this mining project. We don’t want the nature to be spoiled. We don’t want our people to suffer. We don’t want our region to be harmed. We want the responsible authorities to review this project.”
Apart from the environmental matters, locals, who are ethnic Chin, also worry about people of different cultures flooding into the region.
“There’s no one here who will be qualified to do the proposed work on the project. So, they will hire foreign laborers and many other people from outside,” said a chief of Zonumzam village.
“We are just afraid that our unspoiled culture will be affected and ruined by strangers who do not value it.”

Govt to sign resource sharing agreement with companies in Chin State

30 January 2014: Companies permitted to extract natural resources in Chin State will be allowed to start their projects only after the signing of a resource sharing agreement with the State authority, according to a government source.
Kyaw Nyein, State Minister of Forestry and Mines, said in the Myanma Freedom Daily that the companies would start their work only when the agreement was reached.
However, he made no mention of the date of the signing and contents of the agreement, which is believed to be inked in the near future.
Eight mining companies, two from China and six from Burma, have been granted permits to operate in the Gullu Mual mining project in Tedim township, Chin State.
According to media reports, the Gullu Mual project, a joint venture between China and Burma, has been suspended following protests by local communities

Survey finds communities distrustful of Chinese mining companies

17 September 2013: A survey report by four Chin political parties on the Gullu nickel project in Chin State shows that local communities are expressing a new level of distrust of the Chinese companies.
The report said villagers around the Gullu Hill in Tedim Township are aware of theChina-Burma mining project but are not informed of the details of the plans and possible outcomes.
Khin Mar Lar, from Myalin village in Sagaing Region, said: "We read their flyer but it was very unclear. We don't see transparency or accountability in their practice."
Community representative Pu Tuai Cho said local communities should have been consulted with detailed documents and papers related to the project.
The report said the local communities prefer mining companies from a democratic country to those from China if the project must proceed, although the majority object to its implementation.
Pu Kam Za Hmung, retired university rector from Kalay Town, said: "The project should be implemented only after we have had a federal system and a clear picture of shares from it. This shouldn't happen before 2015 elections."
The Chin parties also met with the Chin State government in Hakha, presented their findings, and held discussions with cabinent members.
However, the Chin State government said they don't have the authority to deal with the mining matter which should be discussed with the central government.
The statement by the Chin parties also said no contract had been signed between Burma and the North Mining Investment Company of China, citing sources from the government of Chin State.
Last April, the Chin State government informed the central government that local communities agreed with the mining project based on a survey result conducted with 20 villages.
Contrary to that, the Chin parties' report indicates that at least fourteen villages, five from within Chin State and nine in Kalay of Sagaing Region, disapprove of the project.
Furthermore, it places stress on the importance of implementing the project in accordance with the international standards and norm should it go ahead.
The Chin National Party (CNP), Chin Progressive Party (CPP), Ethnic National Development Party (ENDP) and Asho Chin National Party (ACNP) had met with more than 700 people from 14 villages and over 10 organizations in both Chin State and Kalay Town of Sagaing Region from 2-9 September.
In Kalay town of Sagaing Region, the team also held a meeting with representatives of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Zomi Congress for Democracy, 88 Generation, MPs, universities students and youth groups

Chin parties to meet with State govt over Gullu nickel projects

04 September 2013: The government of Chin State and representatives of four Chin political parties are to hold a meeting on Gullu nickel projects in Hakha this Saturday.
Salai Ceu Bik Thawng, CNP General Secretary, said the team would conduct a survey on the ground with local communtinies until Thursday and would have proper discussions with the State government.
He also said a series of discussions would be held with Burma's Ministry of Mines, Chinese Embassy, and North Mining Company of China in addition to meeting with Chin State government, according to the Hakha Post.
Eleven representatives of the Chin parties, led by Pu Zo Zam, CNP Chairman, makes a trip to Gullu Hill in Tedim Township, Chin State, meeting with the local communities.
Meanwhile, about 100 people from political parties, university students, communities and civil society organizations, and media as well as religious groups held a meeting regarding the Gullu nickel projects at Shin Hong Hall in Kalaymyo of Sagaing Region yesterday

Major events of Gullu Mual (Mwetaung) nickel exploration projects

04 September 2013: The following is a short record of major events pertaining to the China-Burma venture over a mining contract of nickel found in Gullu Mual, aka Mwe Hill or Mwetaung in Burmese, of Tedim Township, Chin State.

  • Initial studies were conducted by the Mineral Exploration Corporation of the Ministry of Mines in 1965-66, followed by the Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration Department in 1973, 1982, and 1999.
  • The Kingbao (Jinbao) Mining Ltd of China signed an agreement on nickel mineral exploration and feasibility study with No. 3 Mining Enterprise of the Ministry of Mines of Burma in August 2005. The work could not be operated and the contract was cancelled.
  • New Top Hong Group Ltd of China held a meeting at the Ministry of Mines in March 2011. A preliminary observation field trip was made in July 2011.
  • Two field groups of Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration Department launched the exploration and test of chromites at another location, west of Mwe Hill beginning on 30 July 2011.
  • North Mining Investment Co Ltd of China, China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering & Construction Co Ltd and Guiling Research Institute of Geology for Mineral Resources held discussions on exploration and production of the deposit.
  • Chin MP Pu Zung Hlei Thang raised a question at the second regular session of the first Amyotha Hluttaw at Nay Pyi Taw in September 2011.
  • North Mining Investment Co. Ltd is incorporated under the Burma Companies Act by the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development in May 2012.
  • North Mining Investment Co. Ltd submitted its feasibility study reports on 'Mwetaung Nickel Smelting Project' to the Ministries of Mines, and Environmental Conservation and Forest in February and March 2013.
  • U Kyaw Nyein, Chin State Minister of Forestry and Mines said a proposal for mining work permits has been submitted to the Union Government early 2013.
  • Community-based campaigns and demonstrations against the projects have been active since January 2013.
  • Representatives of four Chin political parties, Chin National Party (CNP), Chin Progressive Party (CPP), Asho Chin National Party (ACNP) and Ethnic National Development Party (ENDP), conduct a survey on the projects with local communities in September 2013. 
  • About 100 people from political parties, university students, community and civil society organizations, and media as well as religious groups discussed issues related to the Gullu nickel projects in Kalaymyo of Sagaing Region on 3 September 2013.
  • Based on their findings, representatives of the Chin political parties will discussthe issues with the government of Chin State on 7 September 2013.