Local residents are facing the negative effects of excessive rare earth mining : Myanmar Local residents are facing the negative effects of excessive rare earth mining : Myanmar

Local residents are facing the negative effects of excessive rare earth mining : Myanmar

Local residents are facing the negative effects of excessive rare earth mining : Myanmar
In 2023, 41,700 tons (41,700 tons) were shipped to China from Kachin State's underground mining operations, according to a report released on May 23 by Global Witness, a group that monitors the world's natural resource extraction.

Exports to China in 2021 were 19,500 tons, more than doubling.

According to the report, between 2021 and 2023, in the Kachin Special Region (1) Panwa City and Chipue Township, which was dominated by militias and border guards after the coup, there was a 40 percent increase in the amount of underground mining between 2021 and 2023, reaching more than three hundred mineral sites.

"These rivers, forests and mountains are destroyed because of the process of adding and extracting chemicals that are very dangerous to the environment."

He said that in 2023, he earned 1.4 million US dollars from the export and sale of rare earth metals.

A Global Witness report has pointed out that the accelerated mining of rare earths has led to adverse environmental consequences as well as the health of miners and local residents due to the chemical solutions used in mining.

A resident of Panwa, who did not want to be named for security reasons, told RFA that due to the mining of scarce minerals, local people who depend on nature for food will suffer.

"The Chinese are doing what they have to do. Rarely bad. About the environment. Now the mountains are destroyed. Mainly the mountains were destroyed. Then the rivers and streams are destroyed, the wild animals are scarce, and the fish in the streams are no longer there. After a while, it's not easy enough. The people who depend on nature for their livelihood will suffer a lot."

When mining rare earths, the mountains are cleared first, then holes are drilled and ammonium sulfate chemical solutions are added. When the soil melts, it is piped into storage tanks.

Because of the chemical solution added to the mountain, the trees cannot survive, and the chemical solution flows into the stream, causing aquatic animals and local residents to drink it. Locals say that the animals are being poisoned.

A worker who has been working in the mining industry for more than three years in the Panwa area said that after mining the minerals, the consequences for both the environment and the environment. He told RFA that people feel it too.

"On the Panwa side, the whole mountain was dug up so that even cars could enter it. After digging, it has been thrown away, and the entire mountain has become old with holes. If it rains, the mountain often collapses. Can't drink water anymore. If you drink water, your mouth is numb for a long time. Too many mining chemicals”

The Kachin Special Region (1) is also a region with about 1,500 rare species, and when the stream water in that region was sampled, it was found to be highly acidic and contain high levels of arsenic, according to the Global Witness report.

Chemicals such as ammonium sulfate and oxalic acid, which are needed for mining, are mostly exported from China.

In 2015, nearly one hundred thousand tons of ammonium sulfate (93,000) and only 342 tons of oxalic acid were exported, but in 2023, 1.5 million tons of ammonium sulfate and more than one hundred and seventy thousand tons (174 thousand) of oxalic acid were exported, the report said.

A Chi Phu resident told RFA that more landslides may occur following the mining of scarce minerals.

"After the coup, there has been a significant expansion of business. At the moment, they still have their workplaces on the site, so they are safely covered with awnings to prevent them from being harmed. Other people are always watching because there is not much damage yet.

He also said that the underground mining has started from the Panwa side to Chan Maw Hung areas and six miles away from Chi Phue.

Similarly, in Momok Township, an area controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the report stated that there were only nine mineral mining sites in 2021 to more than forty mining sites in 2023.

Colonel Naw Bu, in charge of KIO news and information, said, "There are rules and regulations that we have said to do this with restraint so that there is no harm to the public's health." "We have set rules to preserve the environment so that the natural environment will not be damaged due to the mining of rare earths," he said.

Paul, who is in charge of networking at the Myanmar Mine Monitoring Network (MMWN), pointed out that uncontrolled mining has caused damage to the environment.

"The main cause of environmental damage caused by rare earth mining is the consequences of uncontrolled excessive mining. If we talk about the main reasons, during the mining process, chemicals that are really harmful to the environment are added and extracted, so these rivers, streams, etc. Forests and mountains are destroyed, mainly. Waste materials from the metal industry seep into the Nong Chan Kha Chi Phu Creek, and through that into the Mekha River. There are marine animals, All land animals are destroyed, It's becoming rare, and the mountains are falling down."

Although the civilian government banned the mining of the land, which damages the natural water and forest, in 2018, after the military coup in 2021, the mining activities have been widely expanded, according to the report of Global Witness.

RFA contacted General Zaw Min Tun, spokesperson for the Military Council, and U Moe Min Thein, the state spokesperson for Kachin State, but they did not answer the phone.

According to a report by Global Witness, miners and local residents are suffering from health problems related to over-mining of rare earths, leading to the death of two people.

According to some local residents, in November 2023, nearly three hundred local residents suffered from skin diseases due to the waste from the mine in the KIO-controlled area near Inkopa village.

Locals also said that due to the use of a lot of chemicals and the mining of scarce minerals, the farms where the local people mainly work and eat have been destroyed, so they may face a problem of livelihood in the long run.

Local residents and environmental activists are calling for an immediate halt to the mining.

China, which controls ninety percent of the world's rare earth market, is mainly mining rare earth minerals from Kachin State, according to a Global Witness report.


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