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1 Aug 2022


Myanmar: Wanbao Mining responds to renewed violence at Letpadaung copper mine; analysts allege firm attempting to sidestep concerns over military ties

See all tags Allegations

"China promises Myanmar responsible investment but copper mine clashes raise questions" 1 August 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s promise of “high-standard cooperation” over his signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and his country’s overseas investment appears to have stumbled into trouble over a number of projects in Myanmar, including a controversial copper mine in Letpadaung. [...]

The Letpadaung Copper mine project is one of the projects under the framework of the BRI as claimed by the China’s People’s Daily. Recent atrocities in the copper mine project area in the Sagaing region, a prime area of resistance against the junta, exemplifies how business operations have intentionally and unintentionally caused and contributed to armed conflict and human rights abuses. Wanbao Mining, a subsidiary of Chinese arms manufacturer NORINCO, has been operating the controversial Letpadaung copper mine in Sagaing Region, in partnership with the military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings Company, MEHL since 2010. [...]

A joint statement of Wanbao and Yantse on 4 May in response to the warning of the resistance forces says: “Recently there are many rumours, misperceptions and groundless accusations against our project”. They also claim that since February 2021, their copper production has been halted.

However, according to local people, the project was disrupted temporarily as some of the project workers participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) in the wake of the coup. Then the project resumed and has been operating until the main power cable was recently blown up, allegedly by a local resistance force. [...]

Analysts claim that Wanbao’s responses appear clumsy, dishonest and defensive. Their intent appears to hide their collusion with the military. Rather than making an effort to respond to the legitimate concerns of local people regarding their support to the abusive military forces and their business relationship with the military, they just brushed off such concerns. [...]

Part of the following timelines

Myanmar: CSO report reveals how Myanmar Economic Holding Limited (MEHL) profits from partnership with Chinese state-owned mining companies, companies did not respond

Myanmar: Resistance forces clash with junta troops at Wanbao Mining's Letpadaung copper mine