It was a mystery how Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL) would power its factory in Pyartaung [Pyar Mountain], Kyaikmayaw Township. However, in a recent email from MLC,
it disclosed that it would not only register with the coal-fired power plant for its electricity but also use other methods to run its factory.
According to MCL,The factory is an integrated cement plant that will use a coal-fired plant and bio waste for it’s 40 mega watts electricity needs. 9 mega watts will also be generated by a waste heat generator (WHG). WHG has been implemented due to the factory’s reliance on electrical power and also to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions.
MCL is not constructed near Moulmein Capital. With access to Pyartaung, a limestone mountain, it is located near the villages of Kaw Don, Kaw Panor, Kon Ngan, Kadonzi, Nga Pyayma, Makro, Nidon and Karwan villages, in Kyaikmayaw Township.
“We did not know clearly whether the MCL conducted the EIA [environmental impact assessment]. But, immediately it will want to use the coal-fired power plant for 49 mega watts of electricity. We would like to have a look at their EIA to know whether they already stated that they intended on using a coal-fired plant since the beginning. If not stated, they’re violating the law” said Nai Aue Mon, program director of the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM).
What Nai Aue Mon stated above referred to ‘the Myanmar [Burma] Citizen investment Law’; particularly, at chapter 4, under section 6;[Chapter IV Applicable Business
5. Any type of economic activities may be applied for investment, except otherwise restricted or prohibited businesses under this law, or any existing
6. The following investments shall be stipulated as the restricted or prohibited business:
(a) Business which can affect the traditional culture and customs of the national races within the Union;
(b) Business which can affect public’s environment, causing noise in the residing area;
(c) Business which can affect public health;
(d) Business which can cause damage to the natural environment and ecosystem;
(e) Business which can affect the land and marine animals, trees, flowers, crops, antique heritage, resources;
(f) Business which can bring the hazardous or poisonous waste into the Union;
(g) The factory which produce or the business which use hazardous chemicals under international agreements.
“We have to check whether the investment law is violated and if it is violated, we have the chance to request a stop to the investment project. And, it is necessary to disclose the EIA report to the public,” continued Nai Aue Mon.
“Prior, we did not hear about using a coal-fired plant for electricity. But now, when the news came out, locals have become afraid. We do not want it to run with coal-fired power,” said Mi Ni Ni, from Kaw Don Village.
According to MCL’s statement, before the MCL started its factory construction [since 2013], it consulted with a leading environmental consultant in Burma, the Resource and Environment Myanmar (REM). MCL went ahead with the project and constructed its factory in accordance with the directions of the EIA from REM and after it received permissions from Myanmar Investment Committee (MIC).
“I heard that locals are very worried with the coal-fired project for the electricity production to run MCL’s cement factory,” said Mr. Wijit Terasarun, MCL’s Managing Director.
In the first week of February, 13 Mon monks were invited to observe and study a Siam Cement Group (SCG)/MCL cement factory in Lamphun Town, Thailand. MCL stated that its cement factory in Lamphun applied the same technology and environmental protection to its factory in Kyaikmayaw Township.
“We arrived at SCG’s cement factory located 25km outside of Lamphun Town. They use coal-fired power to produce 30% of their electricity and an electricity generator to produce the remaining 70% or 2400 mega watts of electricity. It is good to see how it protects the environment from harm. There are 42 villages near the factory site but with green trees. We can see the harmony between the villagers and the cement factory,” said Sayardaw Kaythu Marla, from Kaw Palaing Village, who joined the trip to SCG’s cement factory in Lamphun Town.
Sayardaw Kaythu Marla, who studied radio-electronic programming in Thailand and specializes in science, added that the group of monks visited another coal-fired power plant producing 2400 mega watts of electricity and located 30km away from Lamphun Town. They discovered that the environment remained in very good condition.
“According to comments from scientists and environmentalists, as far as they have studied, it is okay to use coal-fired power. There is no mention that it would cause negative effects. If we look at the coal-fired project near Lamphun, it has supplied 10% of Thailand’s electricity for more than 30 years already. The reason why the locals accepted the project is that there is no danger. So, can MCL guarantee to power the cement factory in Pyartaung the way it does in Lamphun? Still, what I mean is that it is best to use natural gas instead of coal-fired power,” said Ashin Kaythu Marla.
After the rumours that MCL would use coal-fired plant, local residents and monks have gathered during MCL’s public/press conferences. Last week, from Feb. 7 to 11, MCL also held meetings with locals from respective villages near the MCL site including Kaw Wan, Kaw Don and Kaw Panor villages. Present at the meeting was MCL’s managing director Mr. Wijit Terasarun.
“Kyaikmayaw CSO network urged MCL to provide the public with a documented report of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and the social impact assessment (SIA) and to share the copies of the EIA and the SIA to Kyaikmayaw CSO network” according to a letter from Kyaikmayaw Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Network on February 10.
According to a statement on MCL’s SCG website dating August 26, 2013, the MCL is an integrated cement plant and the factory would use 40 mega watts electricity produced by a coal-fired plant and bio waste with an additional 9 mega watts produced from factory emitted waste generated through a waste heat generator. However, although it published the information on the website at the time, MCL did not inform the locals here and it only informed the public before it started the operation. Thus, the locals have now become very concerned with the MCL’s coal-fired plant project.