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9 Aug 2022

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

Fighting has taken place at Wanbao Mining's Letpadaungtaung copper mine.

Myanmar Now reports that resistance forces are fighting junta soldiers sent to guard the Wanbao Mining office, which jointly operates the controversial Letpadaung mining site with the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. (UMEHL), a military conglomerate.

The Yinmabin and Salingyi People’s Defence Forces (PDFs) jointly condemned the mining projects run by UMEHL and Wanbao as propping up the junta. They called on the companies’ employees to leave their jobs and join the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).

The Myanmar branches of Wanbao and Yangtse released a joint statement on May 4 claiming that they had been threatened by the PDFs active in the area.

An October 2021 report by the transparency campaign Publish What You Pay stated that during the 2020-2021 financial year, the Myanmar military could have acquired US$417m from the Letpadaung project.

The US government hit Wanbao and its subsidiaries with sanctions in July 2021 over their operations in Myanmar with the military. In March 2021, both the US and the UK sanctioned UMEHL for serving as a financial arm of the junta.

Local residents have long opposed the Letpadaung copper mine, which has allegedly caused widespread damage to the surrounding environment and involved the seizure of thousands of acres of land from villagers who were reportedly evicted without sufficient compensation.

A Wanbao Mining statement said: "The company does not want to be involved in the current conflict. It have expressed its desire not to harm innocent people and surrounding villages. It urges all armed groups and unarmed groups to the safety of project staff, to respect the right to life and the right to choose."