Civilians seeking to force the closure of a rare earth mine in Dingsing Pa, which is supported by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), have ordered Chinese companies that are invested in the mine from the area in Bhamo District.
“We have written to the KIO asking them to close the mine by 28 February, but they have not responded. If the companies do not withdraw from the mine, we will seize their buildings and tools,” a leader of the protesters told KNG on condition of anonymity.
On 17 February, the KIO called over 200 people from 9 villages – Dingsing Pa, Hpet Gum, Dingsing Bum, Hkapara, N’jan Bum, Hpai Dang, Daron, Hka-U, Jang Mai – informing them about the mine in Kachin State and warning of action against anyone who tries to stop it. Villager Daw La Htaw Roi, 56, suffered a heart attack during the meeting and died on the way to hospital.
The KNG asked KIO officials at its eastern administrative office to comment on the mine, which has been in the works since December last year, but no one responded.
Since the beginning of the year, civilians have raised their objections about it, but the Kachin armed group has ignored them. Now they have told the KNG that they’re willing to sacrifice their lives to protect their land.
“We’ll face many problems in the future if they start mining rare earths in this area and that is why we want it stopped. We aren’t against the KIO, but we expect to be listened to…We aren’t (trying) to block the KIO’s income or attack it. I think it can earn money in other ways. All the locals are absolutely against rare earth mining in the area,” said a man who wished to remain anonymous.