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Biblioteca We Used to Fear Bullets - Now We Fear Bulldozers (English)

We Used to Fear Bullets - Now We Fear Bulldozers (English)

We Used to Fear Bullets - Now We Fear Bulldozers (English)

Resource information

Date of publication
Septiembre 2015
Resource Language
ISBN / Resource ID

Dirty coal mining by military cronies & Thai companies,
Ban Chaung, Dawei District, Myanmar.....Executive Summary: "This report was researched and written collaboratively by Dawei Civil Society Organizations
and documents the environmental and social impacts of the Ban Chaung coal mining project
in Dawei District of Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region. Based on desk research, interviews
with villagers, and direct engagement with companies and government, it exposes how
the project was pushed ahead despite clear opposition from the local community. It
documents the serious harm that has already been done to villagers’ health, livelihoods,
security, and way of life, and the devastating contamination of local rivers and streams.
It calls for the suspension of Mayflower Mining Company’s permit and operations at Ban
Chaung until this harm is remedied and the project is effectively evaluated, monitored, and
regulated in compliance with Myanmar law and international best practice. It advocates
that local villagers should be given the opportunity to take ownership of their own path to
Formerly mired in conflict, resource-rich Tanintharyi Region is now opened up to foreign
investment, and is threatened by a flood of dirty industrial projects including the massive
Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and seven coal-fired power plants. Among these dirty
projects is a coal mine in the Ban Chaung area of Dawei District. The project is located in a
sensitive recent conflict zone, where administration and territory is contested between the
Myanmar government and the ethnic armed resistance organization, the Karen National
Union (KNU).
Taking advantage of contested administration and weak governance in this area, Myanmar
crony company Mayflower Mining used its high-level connections to begin coal mining
operations without proper safeguards to protect human rights and the environment. The
project was pushed ahead without an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA)
and without the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of local villagers.
Mayflower Mining Company has a partnership with two companies from Thailand – East
Star Company and Thai Asset Mining Company – that are operating on the ground in Ban
Ban Chaung Coal Mining Report 2015
Chaung. Thai Asset has nearly completed building a road to transport Ban Chaung coal
to the Theyet Chaung on the Tanintharyi coast, but its progress has been stalled due to a
protest blockade by villagers. Meanwhile, East Star has already been operating a 60-acre
open-pit mine at Khon Chaung Gyi village for more than three years, transporting nearly 500
tons of coal daily during the dry season according to local villagers. East Star has entered
into a Joint Operating Agreement with Energy Earth Company, which will
finance its mining
operations and sell the coal on the market. May
flower and its Thai partners plan to expand
operations to mine for coal on at least 2,100 acres, threatening to take almost all of the
local community’s agricultural land.
Should it be allowed to expand, Ban Chaung coal mining would severely damage the health
and livelihoods of approximately 16,000 villagers in the area, most of whom belong to the
Karen ethnic group, and rely on
fishing and farming. Indeed, many villagers are already
suffering from increased pollution of air and water resources and land confiscations, of
once productive agricultural land. East Star Company has dumped mining waste directly
into the streams, causing
fish to die off
and local people to fall sick with troubling skin
diseases. Uncontrolled coal
fires, spontaneously combusting in waste and storage piles,
have caused breathing problems in the community. An influx of outsiders along with the
presence of the Myanmar military means local people no longer feel safe in their own
villages. The project threatens the entire way of life of the indigenous Karen people of Ban
Chaung, who have had their land passed down to them for generations.
Although local people are overwhelmingly opposed to coal mining in their area, they were
never given the chance to voice their concerns; only learning about the project once the
bulldozers started digging on their land. Now, Ban Chaung villagers have joined together
to challenge irresponsible coal mining in their area, and to call for alternative, democratic,
and inclusive development in Tanintharyi Region.

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