Residents of a village in Kachin State have told KNG that their water source has become discoloured after large-scale gold mining took place nearby following the military coup in Burma over a year ago.
”Since the gold mining started, it’s been very difficult to get clean water in our village. The water has become dirty and we’re facing drought,” a man from Nam Sam Yang said, on condition of anonymity. He said they have to fetch clean water a mile away from the mine block site by motorbike or other vehicle.
Another villager, who also asked that his name not be published, said the authorities have failed to protect the environment and that their negligence has brought suffering to local people. “Although we don’t want anyone mining gold near our village, investors are buying up the gold mining blocks next to us. We don’t want to sell our land, but we’ve no other choice,” he told KNG.
Last December, the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) stopped all gold mining in their area. Nam Sam Yang is near Laiza, the de facto headquarters of the KIO, but the village is also close to a Burma Army (BA) camp.
The residents only returned in 2019, after fleeing fighting between the KIO’s armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army, and BA in 2011.
Before the coup, miners extracted the gold using traditional methods that had far less impact on the environment, but military-linked companies have brought in large earth-moving machines that are destroying the land and water.