UNEARTHING MYANMAR MINING PRACTICES
Opening 25 March, 2016, 6.00 p.m. at Santichaiprakarn Park
Partner with NRGI - http://www.resourcegovemance.org
As Myanmar continues the application process for EITI (extractive industries transparency issue) membership, it is required to bring accountability and transparency to mining initiatives within the country. With EITI membership comes greater freedom in international investment in Myanmar's mining sector, and it is imperative that the host of issues surrounding mining practices in Myanmar are not forgotten in the face of increased income.
Andre Malerba (US), Eugenie Stone (MM), Lauren DeCicca (US), Minzayar Oo (MM), Matt Grace (UK) and Suthep Kritsanavarin (TH) have each focused on a particular aspect of the extraction industry including: jade, natural gas, oil, copper, gold and coal. By doing so, issues such as lost revenue, environmental damages, work related medical issues, activism, and land grabs are covered, among others. Each photographer has gained access to a difficult or restricted area in order to document a facet of mining, and has returned with original work that provides new insight into mining in Myanmar.
The people living near the city of Monywa, in the Sagaing region of Western Myanmar have suffered abuse linked to the business operations of copper mining corporations for years.
Beginning in 2011, thousands of Myanmar people have been forcibly evicted from their land in order to make way for the Letpadaung Copper Mine, run by a Chinese company. The Wanbao Mining Corporation, in conjunction with the Myanmar police authorities, has steadily engaged in land grabs and assault towards farmers and freelance miners in the area.
Here, on the edge of Myanmar's dry-zone, east of Mandalay City, gold mining has been a staple of life for five or six decades. Sluicing and panning by hand quickly revealed vast quantities of gold and traditional methods gave way to dynamite, drills and chemicals like cyanide and mercury. In the wake of these more modern techniques, unanticipated environmental and physical problems arose, which still haven't been accurately quantified or recorded, due in part to Myanmar's military induced isolation.
Ma-De island is where the main project of Sino-Myanmar Pipelines is situated. Both the Natural Gas Pipeline starting from Rimee Island, and the Crude Oil pipeline coming from the operation center at this Island pass in parallel to China, running 771 km and 793km respectively - a state operated project of China and Myanmar with international partnerships. The oil pipeline is joint ventured and built by China National Petroleum Cooperation and Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise whilst the gas pipeline is invested in by both and few other international companies.
After my fourth trip into the jade mines in Northern Myanmar, I began to start following the trail of the jade, hoping to take a look inside how a large part our nation’s multi-billion dollar worth stones are ‘vaporizing’ through the Northern border with China. Literally following on one of the roads through which the jade traders of the black market go to make deals in China, where jade is priced and loved more than anywhere else in the world.
The atmosphere as we enter Htankai, one of numerous oilfields in central Myanmar’s Magwe Region, feels almost festival-like. An expanse of teepee-like green tents and grey mud, a persistent hum of generators, a buzz of expectation.
The area we’ve walked into, the most recent to be heavily drilled, is part of a field once controlled by the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise. Under their administration landowners were offered little or no influence over how the land was exploited, and received little or no income from the lucrative industry, but in 2013 the land was returned to the local community in order to revert it to productive agricultural land.