EARTH Thailand

Mining in Taninthayi sows friction between residents and KNU

Myanmar Eleven News / The Nation 29 November 2014 | Phyo Zin

DAWEI – The residents of Khamaung Thwe village and civic organizations have denounced the exploitation of mineral resources by Karen National Union (KNU) and local entrepreneurs in the area. The village is located in the Myitta village tract in Dawei District.

The KNU and local business people are currently mining tin from the area, as well as testing for gold mining. 

The tin and gold mining industries have introduced several problems to the village, including the loss of fresh water resources and biodiversity in Khamaung Thwe Creek and other damage to the environment. 

"We depend on the creek for our livelihoods. We carry water from the creek for drinking water and agriculture. The creek is also home to hundreds of fish species. If the authorities grant permission to the tin and gold mining industries, the creek will be damaged in the near future. The mining industries threaten our survival," said Saw Ke Do from Community Sustainable Livelihood and Development Committee. 

Over 1,500 locals from 12 villages that depended on Khamaung Thwe Creek have already petitioned against the tin and gold mining industries. They sent a petition on November 25 to the officials from the KNU and to the Taninthayi Region Chief Minister. 

The lack of response from local governments and from the KNU is prompting locals to lose trust in both.  

"Although the Lodo Soe Township administrator [and KNU official] knew that the locals strongly objected to the exploitation of mineral resources in Taninthayi Region, he ignored us," said Saw Ke Do.  

"Last months, a Japanese firm discussed its plans to enter the mining industry with the locals, but we did not accept them. The [KNU and local entrepreneurs] knew about this, yet they ignored our voices," he continued.   

Brigades 3 and 4 of the Karen National Liberation Army, the military wing of the KNU, are now running tests for gold mining in Khamaung Thwe Creek.