Tanai Amber Mines to be Re-Opened to Locals

Investors can apply for permission to mine, with priority given to locals, Kachin State’s natural resources and environment minister says.

The Kachin State government announced this week that it had presidential permission to re-open nearly 7,000 acres of amber-rich land to local miners.

Some 6,919 acres of mines in Nweni Bum, Nang Maphyu and Htapaya Maw will be made accessible in response to local demand in September, according to the state’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.

“We ordered the Tanai Township administrator to demarcate the mining blocks systematically,” minister Dashi La Seng told KNG. “Investors can apply for permission [to mine]. We will prioritize local people with mining block applications, because we want to create job opportunities for local people.”

Locals will be defined as those who have family registration documents for the Tanai area.

An individual can apply for access to one acre of land and will be taxed 1.1 million kyat (US$730) per acre.

Dashi La Seng added that stakeholders including the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Tatmadaw-backed militias also participate in the process, saying that the focus was on regional stability.

According to Burma’s 2018 Treasury Law, the state government has decision-making power in the scheme. Tanai parliamentarian Lin Lin Oo said that he hoped the state government would keep local benefits in mind throughout the process.

“I am so happy to hear about it. Local people will get job opportunities. The government will also get official taxes. It’s better for both local people and government,” he told KNG. “Local people are still worrying about powerful businessmen coming to invest with big machines in their amber mine. I think state government should be systematic and strict with this.”

Officials from the Kachin State government held a meeting in the state capital of Myitkyina on July 3 to discuss the opening of the amber mines in Tanai.

The Burma Army and the KIA fought near Tanai’s gold and amber mines in 2017, leading to the closure of the mines until now.

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