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Wanbao Mining Company signed a new contract for the controversial copper-mine project in Sagaing Region

July 15, 2013

China’s Wanbao Mining Company signed a new contract for the controversial copper-mine project in Sagaing Region last week, according to the Myanmar Investment Commission.

The Myanmar Investment Commission approved a new contract for Letpadaungtaung copper-mine project on July 10 which gives 51 percent of profits to Myanmar government, 19 percent to the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL), and 30 percent to Wanbao Company. Gen Yi, Managing Director of Myanmar Wanbao Company, ensured there would be transparency and all agreements will be revealed to the public.

The Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Limited (UMEHL) commonly known as U Paing

The Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Limited (UMEHL) commonly known as U Paing

“Profit sharing between Wanbao and Myanmar, environmental issues of the project and corporate social responsibilities will be revised in the new contract,” said Gen Yi.

The project was first approved as a joint venture between Wanbao Company and UMEHL. Last year, there were series of local protests against the project because of its environmental and social impact as well as land confiscation in the project area. A government probe commission, formed after a brutal police crackdown on sit-in protestors, decided amid objections by some local people that the project should continue.

The commission led by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, however, suggested reviewing the contract, having transparency and providing fair compensation for the confiscated lands.

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Agreements in the new contract for the Chinese-backed controversial copper-mine in central Myanmar will be revealed to the public, Gen Yi, Managing Director of Myanmar Wanbao Company, said on Friday.

The Letpadaungtaung copper-mine project, a joint venture between Chinese mining company Wanbao and Myanmar military-owned conglomerate Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, faced a series of protests by the locals last year.

Wanbao Company and Myanmar government are going to sign a new contract for the project, Gen Yi said during a press conference at the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar where the Chinese businessmen met journalists.

A few months ago, the government probe commission, which decided the continuation of the project amid objections by some local people, suggested reviewing the contract, having transparency and making fair compensations for the confiscated lands at the project area in Sagaing Region.

Gen Yi said that profit sharing between Wanbao and Myanmar, environmental issues of the project and their corporate social responsibilities will be revised in the new contract and these will be publicized.

The press conference was also attended by Jin Hongen, the Chinese Economic and Commercial Councilor in Myanmar, and the representatives from the Chinese Power Investment Corporation, whose Myitsone dam project in Upper Myanmar was suspended following the public protests, CNMC Nickel Co., Ltd (CNICO) and the association of Chinese companies in Myanmar.

“We will strictly follow the guidelines included in the contracts, agreements, and pledges when making investments. We will try to win the trust from Myanmar social organisations,” said Jin Hongen.

The official told the media that they will conduct bilateral rules and regulations between Myanmar and China and pay tax in accord with specified laws.

The investing companies will also try to win public trust by releasing news about their businesses through the media, according to them.

The official pledged that Chinese entrepreneurs will systematically do environmental protections while doing projects in Myanmar.

An official from CPI said it depends on the government to restart the Myitsone dam project, which was halted in 2011 after the civilian government took office.

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