About half of China’s heavy rare earths, such as dysprosium and terbium, come from Myanmar.
Fears that military could step up exploitation of resources to shore up finances, putting one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations at increased risk.
Activists have urged US retail giants Amazon, Walmart and Overstock to ban sales of gems from Myanmar on their sites after an Indian jewelry company removed all online listings that included the precious stones, which are a key source of funds for the junta.
Despite trade sanctions imposed in June to ban imports of Myanmar teak into Europe, more than 300 tonnes of the ‘king of woods’ worth well over €2 million has since entered into Italy, EIA can reveal.
The suggestion is to educate miners about the health risks of heavy metals and to encourage the use of proper PPE all the time while working in gold mine.
The move is a significant sign that the 10-member grouping is starting to officially engage with the National Unity Government (NUG), which was formed as the country’s rightful government by elected lawmakers from Myanmar’s ousted National League for Democracy and its ethnic allies after February’s military coup.
Workers have reported that while they used to drink the water from the streams and wash with it, they cannot do so anymore for fear of their health, as the contaminated water is pumped back to those sources.
John Sifton of the organisation Human Rights Watch explains: “Under civilian government, from 2016-2020, the Myanmar authorities actually made some progress on decreasing unsustainable logging and increasing transparency on revenues. After the coup, however, the situation is going back to how it was, with massive and destructive logging, and all the profits going into the pockets of the military, not the people or the country.”
The 400 workers are among a pool of some 230,000 migrants who have sought work in China in the wake of armed conflict, environmental destruction and natural disasters in Myanmar, the Mekong region’s largest source of migrants, according to the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration. The undocumented status of the workers leaves them susceptible to exploitation at the hands of business owners and local officials.
Local people in Kachin State are unsure as to whether controls will be brought in for gold mining and protection of the environment. There is concern that mining work, particularly with heavy machinery, will continue to badly damage the environment including destroying river bank soil, particularly during seasonal flooding.