By Myanmar Eleven
Tanintharyi River, Tanintharyi, Myanmar, January 29, 2016
Official Chinese representatives from the Shwe Htun Pauk company have said that they will stop their operations if they face continued opposition from residents.
The company, officially licensed to mine gold and other minerals at the Tanintharyi River near Maw Hta village, held a meeting about water pollution with around 40 residents, Dawei-Myeik representatives of the Karen National Union and regional civil groups.
Villagers say that the company’s use of three boats affects around 60 villagers’ ability to use the river for transport and drinking water supplies. They say they fear operations will damage the ecosystem and water life, destroying the environment.
Shwe Htun Pauk’s representative Ko Cho said: “We are still in the testing phase but we will not continue if villagers will not accept us. All the equipment is taxed and directly imported from overseas. We have no plans to have any confrontation with residents. There should not be any pollution to the water since we do not use any mercury in our machinery. We take rocks from the river and leave sand at the side of the river. It is not as bad as the locals say.
“We know that we will not last long if the villagers will not accept it. The government and the company management told us to do a trial run. Villagers have run makeshift gold-digging operations on the site for about four to five years so if we were to limit our operation to only gold gathering, we will lose a lot of money. That is why we had to dig for other minerals as well. Even before we attended this meeting, we put all operations on hold. As for completely stopping the operations, we will have to discuss it with all our shareholders. Only when we are permitted to mine in an environmentally sustainable way will we begin again.”
Shwe Htun Pauk has been mining at Maw Hta village in Myittha Township with steel platforms in the river from September as well as three ships and one steel platform in other areas of the Tanintharyi River.