The people of Hukawng Valley want to convert fallow land near their village into farms, but out-of-town mining companies have their eyes on the gold deposits in the area and have been already reportedly paying taxes to the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) to mine land nearby.
With the KIO’s permission, more than 30 miners have been extracting gold near Tingkok in Tanai Township since August 2021, devastating 1,000 acres of farmland in Kachin State, locals informed KNG.
According to a villager who requested anonymity, the miners are going after 300 acres of land that villagers plan to use for agriculture. “Three families have farmland, but two families don’t,” he said, and they want to convert the vacant land near Tingkok into farms for themselves.
In 2019, residents petitioned the ruling National League for Democracy to farm the vacant parcel three miles east of Tingkok.
Another resident, who didn’t want to be named for fear of reprisals, said they want the mining to stop. He said the land would “provide “food for their survival” and hopes the KIO can understand their plight.
Another resident, who also requested anonymity, said mining near the Nam Hpyek Hka River is damaging valuable farmland. “They didn’t negotiate with the villagers before they started gold mining in this area. They ignored us and only negotiated with the authority.” The man said the mining companies pay taxes to the KIO and the Burma Army’s Tanai Regional Operations Command every year. He said they’re concerned that they’ll lose more land in the area and the water will be polluted even more if mining expands in the area.
According to locals, the companies have promised to refill the soil they’ve dug up in the gold mining blocks, but in reality they’ve done nothing, making thousands of acres unsuitable for agriculture.