Gold Extraction Escalating Near Suspended Myitsone Dam

Under military rule, gold mining has increased around the suspended Myitsone Dam along the Mali hka and Irrawaddy rivers, and in Chipwi Township in Kachin State, with crony mining companies using large backhoes to extract the precious metal against the wishes of residents.

A local from the Myitsone area about 42 km north of Kachin State capital, Myitkyina, told KNG that some businessmen pose as fishing companies when in fact they are there for the gold. The woman, who requested anonymity, said a man named N’ler Naw Awng lied to villagers that he was digging a fish pond. ”He digs in the ground and moves it somewhere else at night. We have been watching closely what he is up to. So far he has dug up a acre of land in the area.” She and others want the mining to stop but don’t know who to ask for help.

The woman said another person involved in gold mining is Yup Zau Hkawng, a member of the Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group. He is close to Kachin State’s military junta-appointed chief minister, Hkyet Hting Nan. For the past month, Yup Zau Hkawng’s company has been digging for gold on the riverbank, while another businessman has been digging behind a monastery, she said.

In Chipwi Township, mining companies along the Maykha (Nmai Hka) River are protected by the local People’s Militia Force, which works under the regime, said another source, who asked not to be named.”The junta and its cronies are doing business together and will kill us if we complain.”

The man said the gold mining, which began in May, increased dramatically in October and fears that soil erosion will lead to flooding when the rainy season begins in spring.

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