Hpasawng Parliamentarian Pushes for Govt Accountability on Mawchi Mine Dangers

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Hpasawng parliamentarian has said she is unsatisfied with a minister’s answer to her question in the legislature about whether dangerous sections of Karenni State’s Mawchi lead mine should be closed.

MP Nang Htwe Thu posed the inquiry during the parliamentary session on August 16, following the collapse of some mining blocks at the Mawchi site during early August due to heavy rainfall.

Photo – Pyithu Hluttaw (facebook)

Dr. Ye Myint Swe, deputy minister of the natural resources and environment ministry, responded by saying that miners are barred by the authorities from working below large stones—known locally as bread stones—because of the risk of mine collapse and landslide. People who do so are digging unofficially there.

According to the deputy minister, people are and will continue to be prohibited from living in areas near the Mawchi mine that are deemed unsafe.

“I am not satisfied with his answer. I think at least ministry should go to observe the dangerous mining blocks,” Nang Htwe Thu said. “When I asked this question, minister became aware of the situation at the Mawchi mine. He replied that ministry would go and observe the dangerous sites.”

The MP then asked if the sites would be closed if they are deemed dangerous, but Dr Ye Myint Swe said that the ministry would have to carry out an investigation because companies’ extraction licenses had already been extended.

The Kayah State Mineral Extraction Company had an extraction license for 10 years from 2002 until 2012.

They extended their license with the government in 2012-2013 for first time, until 2014 for the second time, and from 2014-2019 for third time. The most recent extension was from 2019 until 2024.

The company has permission to extract graphite (lead) from more than 6,000 acres of mining area.Massive landslides occurred in Mawchi in 1985, 1988 and in 2015. Each time, people were killed and houses were destroyed.

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