Coal-mining companies agree to close down in Mong Kung

Coal mining site in Mong Kung Township Coal mining site in Mong Kung Township

The Pyae Aung Hein and Hein Mitter coal-mining companies have both agreed to halt operations at their sites following a protest by some 4,000 residents in Mong Kung on April 11.

Sao Ekka Sina, a Buddhist monk who was one of the demonstration organizers, said that representatives of both firms agreed to a cessation in coal mining at the site after meeting with the representatives of the people of Mong Kung Township, Loilem district in southern Shan State two days after the demonstration.

“Nang Harn and Sai Htun, the representatives from the companies, met with us on April 13,” he said. “There were about 50 people, including monks, village headmen, local authorities and MPs attended the meeting. The company representatives said they would move out within a month.

“They said they would end their operations and never come back,” he said. “However, if they continue to mine, we will continue to protest. In saying that, I don’t think they will come back.”

Hein Mitter Co.Ltd signboard in Mong Kung
Hein Mitter Co.,Ltd signboard in Mong Kung

Sai Seng Murng, a Lower House MP from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) representing Mong Kung Township, said that he always stood alongside the voice of the local people.

“I urge every group, including the government, CSOs [civil society organizations] and media, to keep its eyes focused on the mining operations in Mong Kung,” he said. “As for the monks and Mong Kung residents, we strongly oppose this project.”

Local protesters against the site have maintained that the coal-mining operations would cause grave environmental destruction in Mong Kung. They said that some 2,000 acres of land, including conifer forests, mountains and farmland, would be severely damaged.

The Pyae Aung Hein and Hein Mitter companies were granted permission by the central government in Naypyidaw to launch coal-mining projects in Mong Kung in 2014. But the mines were suspended after growing opposition from local residents.

Earlier this year, coal-mining operations restarted, leading to hundreds of people taking to the streets.

By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)