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Mining Investment


Mining investment provides Burma’s military regime with its largest source of legal income and Canadian mining companies are in the thick of it. The Canadian mining company Ivanhoe Mines, which is in a 50/50 joint venture with Burma’s ruling junta, operates the biggest foreign mining venture in Burma. In addition, there are about four or five other Canadian junior mining companies doing business in Burma, all of whom inevitably support the regime through their business there. (Click here for list)

CFOB is particularly concerned about the Ivanhoe Mines project called the Monywa Copper Mine. Monywa (pronouned Mo-yu-ah) is a city located in Sagaing Division in the North-West part of Central Burma close to the mine site. Environmental damage is often an outcome of copper mining and the Monywa project is no exception.

The Impact of Mining Investment

Environmental degredation

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.

Individual Testimony

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 following testimony.

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 activities.


Press Releases/Statements and News

Burma Parliamentary delegation expected in Canada

CFOB statement on latest communal violence in Burma

What more can Canada do in Burma? - Tin Maung Htoo

Burma’s Kachin seek Canadian support

Staying true for human rights for all - Rebecca Wolsak

Why Inter Pares is wrong on Burma - Tin Maunng Htoo

CFOB concerned with Kachin conflicts in northern Burma

CFOB 2012 Annual Report released!

Statement on CFOB AGM on Dec. 15, 2012

Burmese Civil Society Organizations Dismayed by Inter Pares

CFOB AGM on Dec. 15 in Toronto

Minister Jason Kenney to Meet with Prominent Buddhist Monk

CFOB in Crisis with Rohingya in Burma

Baird Concerned about Renewed Violence in Rekhine State

Burmese Foreign Minister Queitly Visited to Canada

CFOB Policy Statement: “Navigating the thaw: Burma-Canada Relations in 2012 and beyond”

Over 70 Canadians and Burmese activists cleared from 'Blacklist'

Revised: Canada Calls for Peaceful Solution in Arakan state of Burma

Advocating humanitarian assistance to Kachin IDPs in Burma

Parliamentary Testimony with Aung Din (USCB)

Parliamentary Testimony with Tin Maung Htoo (CFOB)

Minister Kenney Surprises Burmese Community with Announcement

Minister Jason Kenney to meet with Burmese community leaders in Toronto

Policy Consultation on Burma

Burma Day - Celebrating 20th of CFOB

Long-time Burma supporter Brian John passed away

CFOB pleased by prisoners release but more reform needed

CFOB Welcomes Fine For Firm That Illegally Exported Plane to Burma

CFOB Welcomes U.S Secretary of States Visit to Burma

CFOB Saddend by the Loss of Jack Layton

Cross Canada bike ride for Burma reaching to final destination

Ivanhoe received US$103 million from Burma's copper mines

Burmese President accepts credentials of Canadian Ambassador to Burma

Aung San Suu Kyi supports UN commission of inquiry on Burma

Transfer of Ivanhoe's Burmese assets to weapons firm must be probed

Canada Sends Best Wishes to Aung San Suu Kyi on Her Birthday

66th Birthday Events of Aung San Suu Kyi in Canada

Suu Kyi to be honored on Canada Day in Côte Saint-Luc

Cross-Canada Bike Ride for Burma

Suu Kyi addresses to Conference on ‘Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict’

New Burmese Ambassador to Canada: a messenger for new regime in Burma?

Media coverage on detained Canadian in Burma

Suu Kyi to deliver video message at Carleton University

Carleton University to Honour Aung San Suu Kyi

Canada to Support 'Commission of Inquiry' on Burma's rights violations

Canada to Renew humanitarian support

Canada to welcome additional 1,300 Karen Refugees from Thai-Burma Border

CFOB Welcomes Opposition Party Calling for Economic Sanctions

Two events today in Toronto and Vancouver to mark DSSAK Day

CFOB applauds government and Parliament for granting Honorary Citizenship for Suu Kyi, and urges more action on Burma

CFOB welcomes throne speech to honor Suu Kyi with Honorary Citizenship

Canada Welcomes Statement by the United Nations Security Council on Burma

More news...

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