Kachin villagers told KNG they opposed the Union government’s request to Kachin State government to mine uranium in Hpakant Township.
Lamawng La Tawng, who lives in Hpakant, said they don’t want any more mineral extraction projects in the township, pointing out the excessive environmental damage that jade mining has already caused.
In cooperation with a Russian company, the military government sent a team in 2008 to evaluate how much uranium ore was in Kaseng Bum, located in Hawng Per village-tract. It was determined there could be deposits of as much as 200 million tons in the mountain. After fighting broke out between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army in 2011, the Russians dropped its feasibility study.
“The country can use its natural resource if the country needs it,” Dashi La Hseng, the minister of natural resource for Kachin State, told KNG. Mining the uranium would generate a lot of money for the country, and if the project was implemented systematically and according to rule of law, he said the state government wouldn’t oppose it.
Residents indigenous to the area pointed out that the government has never requested their consent. Nor have they been transparent about plans to extract the uranium from Kaseng Bum. A committee is being formed to oppose the mining.
As a member of the Kachin Development Networking Group, Gumgrawng Awng Hkam said he was against the uranium mining when it was first proposed in 2008. Now as the second vice chair of the Kachin State People’s Party, he’s still against it, regardless if it has the backing of the Union and State governments.