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The Ministry of Mining have issued a directive ordering all private mining companies operating in Kachin state’s Hpakant town to temporarily suspend their operations.
During a meeting with private mining companies on 22 May, the ministry instructed the enterprises to halt operations in jade-rich region by the end of this month.
The ministry’s director general Win Htein told DVB the order was issued to promote safety during the rainy season, which will hopefully prevent flooding and landslides.
“The Ministry of Mining has notified [companies] to put their mining operations on hold by the end of May throughout the four to five month rainy season period [to prevent] disasters as well as to protect the environment,” said Win Htein.
“They will be allowed to resume operations in the [dry] season.
However, observers speculate that the directive may be an attempt to prevent mining companies from providing the Kachin Independence Army, who are said to levy taxes on mining groups, with revenue. The KIA has been fighting with government troops in the area after a ceasefire between the two sides broke down in June 2011.
A local resident in Hpakant said mine workers in the area have begun packing up and leaving.
“It’s rather constructive to have the mining operations stop – a small amount of locals who rely on [mining] may go jobless but on the other hand, this will prevent the destruction of natural forests and hills and is a lot more meaningful for our country,” said the Hpakant local.
The Ministry of Mining previously issued an order prohibiting gold mining within areas of the four major rivers in Burma, and ordered them to plants trees in places that were deforested.