Myanmar: Foreign mining companies colluding in serious abuses & illegality in Monywa mine complex, says Amnesty report


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17 April 2015

Myanmar: Amnesty International asks UK govt. to investigate Rio Tinto over breach of economic sanctions

"UK: Investigate Rio Tinto's role in potential Burma sanctions busting", 16 Apr 2015

The UK Government must investigate...Rio Tinto over a possible breach of EU economic sanctions on Burma, Amnesty International said...Rio Tinto was instrumental in the setting up of the secretive Monywa Trust which enabled...Ivanhoe Mines (now Turquoise Hill Resources) to divest its stake in the controversial Monywa copper mine project in central Burma, where abuses have included forced evictions and extreme pollution.  Rio Tinto has been a major shareholder of Ivanhoe since 2006...The Trust was established in 2007 as a condition for Rio Tinto’s investment in Ivanhoe. Information obtained by Amnesty International suggests that the Trust’s subsequent sale of Ivanhoe’s stake could have involved a breach of economic sanctions on Myanmar, by making assets available to the military-owned conglomerate the Union of Myanmar Economic Holding (UMEHL) and Tay Za, a ‘broker’ for the Myanmar government...Rio Tinto states that “it was, and remains, our understanding that the measures required by Rio Tinto and put in place by Ivanhoe on the disposal of the Myanmar asset were fully compliant with all applicable laws giving effect to sanctions”.  

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Company response
25 February 2015

Response by Wanbao: Myanmar Foreign Investment Tracking Project

...Since 2011, the Letpadaung project has paid three tranches of land compensation or subsidies to the villagers who had lost land in the project area. The total amount of compensation and three times of subsidies is between 1,825,000Ks and 3,250,000Ks per acre depending on the type of land. The compensation plus the first subsidy has been claimed by all impacted land-lost villagers. 66% of the total land-lost villagers have taken up the second subsidy, which means the majority of villagers have allowed for the release of their land to the project.

Wanbao had initially complied with Myanmar laws in terms of compensation to farmers in return for land use to the project. Wanbao then assisted the government further through giving more subsidies to the farmers for their land, to take into account the demands of the villagers and for the amount to reflect market prices...

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16 February 2015

Myanmar: “Denying evidence won’t make it go away,” says Amnesty Intl. after companies respond to its report on Letpadaung mine

Author: Meghna Abraham, Democratic Voice of Burma

“Latpadaung: Denying evidence won’t make it go away”, 16 February 2015

…Since the publication of our report, both Wanbao and Turquoise Hill Resources have responded and denied any wrongdoing…The responses from both companies are, however, seriously lacking, and neither has engaged substantively with our findings. This is disappointing – simply denying an overwhelming body of evidence will not make it go away…Wanbao should take urgent steps to prevent the situation around Latpadaung getting worse and address the negative impacts its operations have already had on local people. It needs to stop pretending that there is no problem…

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11 February 2015

Myanmar: Wanbao slams Amnesty report as “groundless, sensationalist”; Ivanhoe rejects accusations

Author: Wenying Seah, Democratic Voice of Burma

“Wanbao slams Amnesty report as ‘groundless, sensationalist’”, 11 February 2015

Myanmar Wanbao has dismissed Amnesty International’s accusations that it colluded in a series of human rights abuses directed against protestors at the Latpadaung copper mine site in Sagaing Division…Myanmar Wanbao rebutted the Amnesty report in a press statement. “We find the report to be groundless and vehemently deny sensationalist claims of collusion with authorities to use force against protestors and villagers,” it said…Myanmar Wanbao’s predecessor at the copper mine, Ivanhoe Mining, rejected accusations by Amnesty of breaking international sanctions by engaging in illegal copper agreements with Burmese military affiliations during a period of international economic sanctions on Burma…

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10 February 2015

Myanmar: Foreign mining companies colluding in serious abuses and illegality

Author: Amnesty International

Canadian and Chinese mining interests have profited from, and in some cases colluded with the Myanmar authorities in serious human rights abuses and illegal activity around the Monywa copper mine complex, which includes the notorious Letpadaung mine, Amnesty International said in a report...Open for Business? Corporate Crime and Abuses at Myanmar Copper Mine describes how large-scale forced evictions and serious pollution linked to the mine have destroyed livelihoods and exposed thousands of people to health risks. Community protests have been met with excessive force by police, including, on one occasion, the use of white phosphorous, a highly toxic and explosive substance. Amnesty International also found evidence of illegal activity including possible breaches of economic sanctions...[refers to Ivanhoe Mines, Knight Piésold Consulting, Myanmar Ivanhoe Copper, Rio Tinto, Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, Wanbao Mining; report includes company responses]

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