Only two businesses have been granted licenses to mine gold in Mon State, the state Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment U Min Kyi Win told the Mon State Hluttaw on December 4 after MPs raised concerns about illegal mining activities.
Over the past three years, the Union government has only granted licenses to Tun Hein Hlyan and Myanmar Shwe Pyi Hein Gold Mining, U Min Kyi Win said.
“The state [government] has to go and inspect whether they are actually producing inside or outside their allotted plot, whether they are producing in line with the technology they have declared, whether they pay taxes, and whether they harm the environment,” he said in response to a question raised by Bilin township MP Khin Naing Oo as to whether gold mining had been sanctioned in Thea Hpyu ward and along the Thea Hpyu stream.
“There is a precedent. The Bilin River has already been ruined. We can’t do anything if the Thea Hpyu stream is ruined as well,” U Khin Naing Oo said. “Local residents rely on the stream for farming. They informed me that there is gold mining [being conducted] along the stream.”
According to U Khin Naing Oo, thousands of acres of summer paddy were ruined in Bilin township last year due to insufficient water supplies. This year, he said, the lower part of Thea Hpyu stream has been nearly silted over, threatening another lost crop.
The state Minister assured MPs that committees were established at the district and township levels in August 2016 to combat illegal mining, and had been instructed to conduct surprise inspections in areas of concern.