Community monitoring of mining activities in Myanmar

Since the ceasefire in 2012, Myanmar has seen a sharp increase in both largescale and artisanal mining. Open pit tin mining has serious consequences for local communities, who are driven off their lands and face water shortage and pollution. With support of IUCN NL, Dawei Development Association (DDA), Green Network, Southern Youth and Myeik Laywers Network established and support community-based mining monitoring groups that report violations and mediate with companies to secure compensation for mining affected communities.

Problem

In Myanmar, the production of tin and other minerals is not always compliant with the country’s mining law, regulations and Environmental Impact Assessment procedures. Communities lose their land to mining concessions and their water sources fall dry as the water accumulates in the craters of the open mines. Illegal use of toxic chemicals causes severe water pollution.

Approach

To put an end to the violation of rights of surrounding communities and nature, better monitoring and enforcement of laws and regulations is imperative. When Myanmar committed to progress towards meeting the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standard, partner organization DDA, with support of IUCN NL, plead for the establishment of community-based mining monitoring groups to monitor whether mining companies are following the legal requirements. Together with other civil society organizations, DDA proposed a mining monitoring mechanism and user-friendly checklist in line with the reporting format that responsible government authorities adopt. The government accepted their proposition and officially recognized the mine watch committees. The monitoring groups now keep track of mining operations and report violations to the competent ministry. They also successfully mediate with companies to secure compensation for mining affected communities.

Result

The Tanintharyi Regional Ministry of Natural Resources & Environmental Conservation (MONREC) recognized 11 mine watch committees. This forest-rich region has only 1,4 million inhabitants, while it is larger than the Netherlands with its 44.345 km2 surface.

The mine monitoring committee for the village Yamon mediated with responsible companies to obtain compensation for over 100 people who lost their lands to mining concessions. This resulted in a financial compensation of 125.385.944 Myanmar kyat (70.000 euro) for the affected people.

The community-based mining monitoring group for the Heinda and Bawapin mining areas reported on violations, such as concessions overlapping community land and severe water pollution due to illegal use of toxic chemicals. In response, the regional government conducted inspections. As a result, the mining company operating the site is not allowed to prolong its permit after its expiry date in 2019.

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