Gold miners have resumed work around the Indawgyi Lake despite facing local opposition in Mohnyin Township in Kachin State.
Mining is now happening in the jungle between Mamong Kai and Lon Tong villages, which threatens the local environment around the lake recognised as a biosphere reserve and biodiversity area by UNESCO in 2017.
Its happening near Nam Ying creek and the chemical waste will be discharged directly into Indawgyi Lake from the creek. A local, requesting anonymity, said that the Lon Tong Christian cemetery is only 300 feet away from the mine and its also near a rice field.
After residents complained, the military ordered the miners to stop on 11 February, but they started up again in mid-March.
“Gold mining is happening a mile away from a Burma army camp in Lon Tong village and no one is allowed to work in the area without their permission. The miners pay bribes to the military to resume their operations in the area,” said another local who wishes to remain confidential for fear of being targeted if he raises the issue of corruption in the area.
Mining around the lake actually started in 2000, but since the military coup over two years ago, activities in the area have increased dramatically.
Before the putsch, Indawgyi, one of the largest inland lakes in Southeast Asia, stretching 8 miles from east to west and 15 miles from north to south, was a popular tourist attraction. The famous Shwe Myinzu Pagoda sits in the middle of it. There are 36 villages around the lake, mostly inhabited by ethnic Kachin and Shan people whose main livelihood is agriculture.