The powerful Myanmar Investment Commission has approved a new draft contract that will give the government a greater share of the profits generated by the controversial Latpadaung copper mine, while reducing the amount of funds the project’s Chinese partner will receive.
According to the new contract, 51 percent of the profits from the mine will be given to the government, while 30 percent will go to the Chinese-backed Wanbao Mining Company Limited. The military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings (UMEH) is set to receive the remaining 19 percent of the profits.
The previous agreement had allotted 4 percent to the state, while the Chinese mining outfit was set to receive 51 percent of the profits, with the final 45 percent going to UMEH.
The new contract follows recommendations etched out in a controversial report published in March by the Aung San Suu Kyi-led Latpadaung Investigation Commission.
The commission was tasked with investigating the social and environmental impacts of the project, along with a pre-dawn assault on 29 November where riot police dispersed demonstrators at the mine with water cannons and incendiary devices.
According to the new contract, US$ 2 million will be allocated annually to fund environmental preservation projects, while another US$1 million dollars will be used to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes.
Includes an agreement to allocate one million USD for CSR and two million for environmental preservation in addition to increasing the amount of compensation based on the market price,” said Myint Thein, media coordinator of the Myanmar Wanbao Mining Company Limited.
“According to the agreement, both (UMEH) and Wanbao will be gaining less percentage of the profits – as recommended in the [Latpadaung Investigation Commission] report.”
Myint Thein said Wanbao is planning to hold a press conference soon where they will inform the public about the revisions made to the contract.While the committee charged with implementing the investigation commission’s recommendations claims to be working on the ground near the mine’s location in Monywa, locals said that they have not been contacted.
Thwe Thwe Win, a local resident and well-known Latpadaung activist, said she was unaware of the provisions in the new contract and claimed the officials affiliated with the committee had yet to contact locals.
“They only acknowledged the villages that accepted relocation, but sent us – villagers who remained in the old village — a letter informing us that we are no longer recognised as a village.”
More than 7,800 acres of farmland and 66 villages have been displaced by the copper mine in Monywa’s Salingyi township.