A company soliciting public backing for its rock quarry project received instead a deluge of fury and objections during a consultation held over this past weekend.
The Explosives Consultation and Application Myanmar Company held an initial public meeting with Karen State residents on August 19 to test the waters. About 300 residents attended the discussion with the ECA company’s managing director at the Mee Zan Village monastery.
The company wants to build a gravel factory in Mee Zan Village, which will necessitate quarrying on Mee Zan Mountain.
The local residents overwhelmingly objected to the plan, citing previous projects that have gone awry with consequences for the villagers.
“We have suffered from [rock quarrying carried out] by another company. We don’t trust any company. They said they will do whatever we want, but there’s no guarantee [they will follow our preference],” said Saw Shar Phaw Htunt, a community elder. “If we allow them to work here, we won’t be allowed to go around the mountain. We rely on this mountain so we must protect it. We won’t allow them [to do the project].”
Chinese state-owned Wanbao Mining – a company involved in the controversial Letpadaung copper mines –started a rock quarry on Mee Zan Mountain in 2011. The project was suspended in 2013 amid opposition from the public.
U Win Myint, an official from the ECA Myanmar Company, assured the local residents at the August 19 meeting that his company will not proceed without first obtaining public consent. He added that the planned project, if it the residents choose to greenlight it, could bring education, health and job opportunities to the area.
“We will write up a contract [to meet] the public’s demands. We will start work, with a license, only after we receive public approval. We won’t work without an understanding,” he said at the meeting.
“We won’t take over the entire mountain. We will try to fix it after the project ends. We will build parks,” he added.
ECA Myanmar Company operates rock quarries in the Belu area of Kayin State’s Myawady township and runs a gravel production company in Shan State’s Tachileik township.