Two foreign mining companies have applied to look for minerals in Chin State, prompting the local government to send a team to assess the proposed area and determine its suitability, according to the state’s forestry and mining minister.
First Light Mandalay Mining & Metals Company from Australia and India’s Balasore Alloys are hoping to sign a contract with the Department of Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration under the Ministry of Mines.
After receiving their application last month, representatives from the police force, forestry and agriculture departments, general administration office, land records department and planning department are all checking whether the proposed area is suitable, said State Minister for Forestry and Mining U Kyaw Nyein.
The team is assessing the security in the area and the status of the land including whether is vacant or protected, and whether the government has plans to develop it, he added.
First Light Mandalay wants to mine for copper in Kanpetlet township, Mindat district, while Balasore Alloys has applied to explore chromite in Tonzang township, Falam district.
If the team approves the investments, the companies will then need to apply for permission to the Union government, said U Kyaw Nyein.
“The team’s findings will be discussed in the Chin State Hluttaw, which will give a recommendation to the Union government. Ultimately, permission is in the hands of the Union government alone.”
He said he could not put a figure on the volume of mineral deposits in the area or how much the companies could produce.
Three companies from Singapore, India and China have already started exploration activities in Chin State with a view to forming joint ventures with the mining ministry. Singapore-based Namaha is exploring for copper in Kanpetlet and has found mineral deposits.
Indian company Karam Chang Thapar (KCT) is looking for chromite in Falam and Tonzang while Chinese company North Mining Investment is exploring for nickel in the Mwe Taung Phar Taung area of Tiddim township.
In 2013, Chin political parties and residents called for transparency over the Chinese-backed project, with some warning that it could lead to a repeat of the unrest seen at the Letpadaung copper mine.
Translation by Thiri Min Htun