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25 Oct 2023

The Irrawaddy

Myanmar: Two week armed conflict around Chinese-invested Tagaung Taung Nickel Mine disrupts operations & results in heavy casualties for military junta

"Junta Suffers ‘Heavy Casualties’ in Clashes Over Myanmar’s Biggest Nickel Mine" 25 October 2023

Sixteen regime soldiers have been killed and more than 30 wounded in two weeks of fighting around the China-backed Tagaung Taung nickel mine in Mandalay’s Thabeikkyin Township, according to People’s Defense Forces.

Trucks hired to transport nickel ore have been trapped at the mine for days due to fear of resistance attacks, according to local sources.

Fighting between resistance groups and 150 junta soldiers tasked with securing the Tigyaing-Mandalay highway used by the vehicles has been ongoing since October 13...

The clashes broke out near the villages of Lat Pan Kone and Sae Zin Khon, around 48 kilometres from Tagaung Taung mine, a Thabeikkyin People’s Defense Force representative said.

“They are worried about attacks by the PDFs if vehicles from the mine travel in the township. So the soldiers are providing security for the mine vehicles and we are currently fighting with these troops,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The nickel project launched in July 2008 under a 20-year joint contract signed by the junta-controlled No.1 Mining Enterprise of Myanmar and Chinese state-owned firm China Nonferrous Metal Mining (CNMC).

With an investment of US$800 million, the project is the largest nickel mine in Myanmar with annual production capacity of 85,000 tonnes of ferronickel, according to the joint-venture firm Myanmar CNMC Nickel. Around 5,000 tonnes of ferronickel ore is transported daily from the mine to Tigyaing Township in Sagaing Region, where it is smelted...

Nickel production was disrupted in January 2022, when Tigyaing Township People’s Defense Force blew up three electricity pylons supplying the Sagaing nickel-processing plant...