Villagers lose land to gold mining companies

Villagers in the Kwingalay claim gold mining companies have taken over lands that they used for cultivation. Villagers allege that a Burmese, Thai and Chinese company based in Rangoon is overseeing contract gold mining projects in Karen National Union controlled areas, near Kwingalay village in Thaton Township, Mon State.

Villagers say officials from the Karen National Union’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army Brigade 1 granted permission to the Rangoon based MyaPu (ShwePu) Company, Lin Let Company, Zin Min Tun’s Company, Mr. Kay (Hong Kong-China Company), Thai companies – the ABC and Maung Lu Company for gold mining on five acres of land per company.

An eyewitness who has been to the gold mines told Karen News that the gold mining operations ran daily. The gold mining companies used bulldozers, dragline excavators, 10-wheel soil moving vehicles, large water pumps and generators.

Speaking to Karen News, the eyewitness said.

“They are extracting gold seriously. The holes are very deep. If they don’t refill the soil, there will be landslides during the rainy season. The mining companies continued working on the lands that they bought [with contract] with workers they brought in.”

Local sources said KNU officials had sold five acres to Mr. Kay (from the Hong Kong-China Company).

A villager [who asked to remain anonymous] told Karen News.

“The gold mining area is where villagers used to cultivate. When the [mining] projects began in these areas, villagers were warned not to work at these places. I’ve heard that the gold mining area will be expanded even further.”

The gold mining areas is under control of the KNLA Brigade 1, Tactical Commander, Colonel Saw P’late, local sources allege that the commander has business connections with the MyaPu (ShwePu) Company.

Karen News tried to contact officials from the KNU central Mineral and Mining Department for a response but the person was not available at the time.

Kwingalay villagers also said that when the company worked on the road construction for the gold mining project, all their coconut trees in the village were bulldozed and the road constructed through rubber plantations, but the company did not mention pay compensation.

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