The Impact of Mining Investment
The Monywa project is an open pit mine, which is the most destructive form of mining. It
involves clearing standing vegetation and forests, diverting drainage systems, destabilizing
topography which causes mountain collapse, and affecting water tables, loss of topsoil, drainage
patterns (irrigation, aquamarine life, etc...). Moreover, once an open pit mine is dug, the area
cannot be restored for future use. Ivanhoe Mines conducted their own environmental assessment of the Monywa mine (link)
Exploitation of Labour
Right now copper prices are extremely low, and the only way the mine could generate profits is by
severely undercutting the cost of production -- namely through open pit mining, which is the
cheapest form of production. But undoubtably this will involve other 'short cuts' such as
bypassing labour rights, which are non-existant in Burma. Therefore, it is not surprising
to read on the Ivanhoe website that the Monywa Copper mine is "one of the world's lowest cost
mines", and one of the largest.
The following evidence is testimony from a Burmese in exile whose family lives in the area near
the Monywa mine. He last visited the area in 1996 and saw much of the
evidence reported below. Since that time, he has received letters from his family confirming the
The Area around the Monywa copper mine
The Chindwin River is a major river in the Northwest, Saing and Mague division. The
Chindwin combines with Irrawaddy river. A small stream called Yama Chaung flows into the
Chindwin, near Kyawk Myint village. Monywa has eight townships.
The villages in the area:
Kyawk Myint, Kan Kon Gyi, Don Daw, Gon Taw, Ywa Tha, Htan Daw Gyi, Phong Kar, Tei Bin Gan
Environment - Air, Ground and Water Pollution
The mine has affected four or five villages so far by polluting them with "concentrate".
Concentrate is the name the people give this waste that comes from the copper mine. The villages
on the West side of Chindwin river are the most affected by the pollution because the trucks
carrying the concentrate go back and forth on the ferry by the river and so leakage goes into the
water, while on the East side, the concentrate is transported by train.
The area smells like toilet bowl cleaner, especially like Phenol. The concentrate has made
the ground black in the area surrounding the Mining Enterprise No.1 Copper Project and the
destroyed farmland is a green/blue colour. The farmers's used to grow crops such as garlic,
groundnut, onion, wheat, rice and palm.
Peoples' livelihoods and health
The government has dug a tunnel from the mining site to the Yama Chaung river for the
waste to pass through into the Chindwin river. To make a living, since many of their farms have
been destroyed, the villagers have been taking the dirty waste water and boiling it to produce
copper and blue vitriol which they can in turn sell on the market.
The copper comes from a small mountain called Sabei mountain. The farmers at the base
of the mountain have been forced off their land to make way for the copper mining. The villages
at the bottom of the mountain are: Don Taw, Ywa Tha and Gon Taw.
The people are dependent for their water on the wells. More and more people are
developing skin irritations which form round patches on the skin. Because the people are
unaware of the dangers, they do not hesitate to touch the waste while carrying out their daily
PLEASE WRITE CANADIAN MINING COMPANIES
Sample Letter to Ivanhoe Mines
Be Sure to CC' a copy of your letter to:
The Honourable Piere Pettigrew
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
phone: (613) 995-8872