The Fortuna Metals Company has informed the Kachin State government that it will not pursue mining exploration in Hkawnglanghpu Township in Putao District at this time, the state’s chief minister said.
Kachin State chief minister Dr. Hket Awng spoke on the issue in the state government’s press conference in Myitkyina on Friday and said the withdrawal letter from Fortuna—which has offices in Burma, Singapore, and Australia—had come last month.
He said that the company had applied to the Kachin State government in 2018 for permission to carry out a feasibility study for the potential to mine for gold and other minerals on a 300,000-acre area of land. It was granted in late 2019.
“Their project has halted because some paddy fields are included in their project area,” Dr. Hket Awng said at the press conference.
The planned project area had also overlapped with 600 acres of land that ethnic Rawang People’s Militia Force leader Tan Gu Tan had also applied for control of, though at the time of reporting it was unclear for what purpose or project. Tan Gu Tan had initially joined in locals opposing the pursuit of a mining project in the area, but eventually withdrew his opposition.
The 300,000-acre area that was to be the site of the exploration included significant areas of forest and rotating farmland relied upon by locals, as well as mountainous terrain.
“The Hkawnglanghpu area is different from other areas because there are many steep hillsides. There is a lot of biodiversity in this area,” Hpungraw Hpyi Nan, chair of the Northern Spectrum Youth Association, told KNG.
The ethnic Rawang Literature and Culture Committee, along with other locals, had sent an open letter to Naypyidaw stating their opposition to starting a mining project in the area, Hpungraw Hpyi Nan said.
“Even if the government allows this project, it will be difficult for the company to start its project here. I think that’s why the company withdrew. We are so happy to hear about the withdrawal of the project,” he explained.
Even though Fortuna Metals has issued a withdrawal letter, Hpungraw Hpyi Nan said he and others plan to continue to monitor the situation.