The Kachin Post / May 18, 2020
Many residents of Khaunglanphu town of northern most part of Burma unanimously protested against planned operation of the Australia based mining company called Fortuna Metals, blocking the proposed mining operation around town.
“Almost all residents of Khaunglangphu township absolutely don’t want Fortuna Company’s planned mining operation,” said in the signboards erected in Lidam and Sangluprachit villages. The signboards were posted last month after a petition was signed by over a thousand residents and informed to government departments, according to Khaunglanghpu residents.
Fortuna is believed to be granted a mining concession to conduct its mining operation on 300,000 acres encompassing Khaunglanphu town. Residents are nervous of losing their homes and possible relocation when the actually mining operation commences, said a former Khaunglangphu resident who asked not to be named.
Most some villagers don’t actually know about this until some local environmentalists informed the Khaunglanphu residents about the negative effects of mining operation, according to the Khaunglanphu resident who is in the condition of anonymity. He also mentioned that the leader of local militia, Rawang People’s Militia Force, indirectly involved in campaigning to protest against the Fortuna Metals.
According to the Fortuna Metals, it has been engaging local communities in a manner that is inclusive and respect their dignity, rights, culture and way of life. Fortuna said its community team work closely with local communities to explain how Fortuna work affect their lives and help maximize benefits through social and economic development. Fortuna’s environmental team visited September 2019 and January 2020 to complete the environmental measurements which will be used to develop an Environmental Management Plan (EMP).
However, a former Khaunglanphu resident said most residents were informed to realize that there would be not much benefit from the Fortuna Metals mining operation compare to the environmental damage which would have been caused by the mining. Many residents in Khaunglanphu didn’t actually know about the Fortuna Metals and what the mining company’s planned operation, because the Fortuna’s community engagement team just met a few communities leaders, not the whole communities, he added.
Fortuna Metals is a boutique exploration company focus on early stage minerals opportunities in Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. The company was founded in 2017 and has offices in Burma, Singapore and Australia. The initial mining survey and collecting geological samples was conducted by the Fortuna Metals Limited (Myanmar) and it was wholly owned by Singapore based Fortuna Metals Australia Pte Ltd. Most of the company’s share holders are Australian individuals who have extensive experiences in mineral exploration and mining industry.
Khaunglanphu town is located 128 miles northeast of Kachin State capital Myitkyina. Most of the town residents are Rawang and Lisu ethnic peoples. The town is also a proposed location to build a hydro power dam on N’mai River by China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) through its subsidiary Ayeyarwady Confluence Basin Hydro Power Company (ACHC).
Khaunglanphu town is jointly administered by the Burmese government with the help from Rawang People’s Militia Force which oversee the township’s territories encompassing the east of N’mai River to the Chinese border.