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Hukawng Valley Locals Call on Kachin State Govt to Halt Yuzana’s Gold Mining

Gold is being extracted from cassava plantations, locals say.

Locals in Kachin State’s Hukawng Valley say that continued gold mining is affecting their ability to farm and survive in the area.

Specifically blaming the activities of the Yuzana Company, villagers from the communities of Shahtuzup, Awng Ra and Lawt Ja said they have lost livestock and land to mineral extraction and the cultivation of cassava crops on the company’s 200,000 acres of land.

Yuzana’s land falls within the Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve, designated as such in 2014. The reserve covers nearly 22,000 square kilometers, more than 6,000 of which are considered “protected forest” by Burma’s government.

“They have been extracting gold in the cassava farms of the Yuzana Company. I don’t think the authorities don’t know what they are doing there,” local farmer Tu Ja told KNG. “My cattle fell down into the holes for gold mines that were dug by backhoes,” he said.

Locals estimate that more than 100 acres of land once used for cassava mono-cropping is now being dug up for gold extraction.

Le May Thar, the headman of San Pya village, said that Kachin State government must urgently carry out a ground survey in this part of the Hukawng Valley.

“The Yuzana Company confiscated farmland from local people, then they planted cassava in the area. Now they are extracting gold in the area,” the headman explained. “The soil in this area is the best for growing paddy plants. I want the state government to come and inspect the area.”

Yuzana began cultivating cassava in the area in 2007, according to local sources. The company has been accused of destroying forests and seizing locals’ farmland to pursue its ventures.

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