Villagers protest Tin Mine expansion

A Karenni women’s group called for the halt to the expansion of the Mawchi tin mines in Karenni State in Eastern Burma. The Karenni women’s group claims that the tin mine has damage the environment and impact more than 4,000 indigenous Karenni people.

The Karenni women group known as the Molo Women Mining Watch Network released a report – Lost Paradise – on the impact of the Mawchi tin mine on December 11 that claimed the mine is an environmental disaster.

“The Mawchi tin mines have inflicted decades of environmental and social damage in Southern Karenni State and the new expansion plans should be halted immediately,” the report stated.

The report details how the mine tunnels, that span as many as 3,000 acres, have caused landslides, water pollution, loss of farmlands, depletion of water resources and deforestation – affecting about 4,500 indigenous villagers.

Naw Ah Mu, the spokesperson for the Molo Women Mining Watch Network told Karen News.

“There are nine villages around the mine site. The total impact of the mine affects more than 8,000 people. The worst hit is the village of Saethongon. Everyday landslides occur, making it very difficult for villagers. It is especially tough during the wet season for them to travel. There is only one footpath they can walk on. In 2012, landslides killed four people.’

The report alleges that the mine has cause health problems among villagers in the area and polluted the Molo River and making the water unusable for local people.

Ah Mu told Karen News.

“In the mining site there are many people with tuberculosis, some have died from TB and other diseases we think are related to the pollution. We need research into the health affects of the mine.”

The government announced plans in August 2012 to expand the Mawchi Tin mine. The mine is jointly controlled by the No. 2 Mining Ministry and the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited. The mine is operated by the Kayah State Mining Company Ltd, headed by ex-military officer U Ye Tun Tin, USDP MP for Pasaung Township. The Burma Army provides two battalions to provide security for the mines.

The Mawchi tin mine has been in operation since British colonial times, and it was once the world’s main source of tungsten.

Naw Ah Mu said.

“Dangerous mines must be shut down immediately. Without legal safeguards that ensure protection and provide benefits for local people – we don’t want any more tin mining in our lands.”

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