Mining law remains frozen


Mining in Kachin State Photo: Mizzima

A mining law that would simplify rules and ease restrictions for foreign investors in the mining sector remains frozen in Myanmar’s legislature. The law was tabled two years ago, however, lawmakers have struggled to find an agreement on the law as resource sharing in the country continues to be a contentious issue.

The current mining law as thus far restricted foreign investment due to the fact that it includes no protections for foreign investors and shuts them out of important sectors such as coal and gold. As a result foreign companies are forced to find a local partner. In addition, there is a clause that states that the government is entitled to a share of the production and entitles the government to additional loyalties and taxes. The new law would clarify the legal framework under which foreign and local companies can mine.

As the peace process moves forward resource sharing has become a major issue. Many of the minerals are located in Kachin and Shan States and armed ethnic groups, attempting to receive a federal arrangement, do not want to lose control  of resources in their own states. In addition, a number of Human rights groups and local community based organsiations have claimed that the land for mines, handed out under previous regimes, was often procured through land grabbing.

As a consequence, it is unlikely there will be any change to the law prior to the election or until after the political dialogue phase of the peace process, the latter of which could take up to two years. 

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