Lt-Gen Khin Zaw Oo, chairman of MEHL, explains about the company’s involvement in a controversial copper mine to Suu Kyi. (Photo-NLD)
A preliminary report on the environmental and social impacts of the controversial Letpadaungtaung copper mine project will be submitted to President Thein Sein earlier than scheduled, a member of the team investigating the Chinese-backed project said at the weekend.
Khin San Hlaing, also a Member of Parliament for the opposition National League for Democracy, said the chair of the investigative team, NLD Leader Aung San Suu Kyi, had decided to submit the report to the president before January 23, more than one week ahead of its January 31 deadline.
Khin San Hlaing said the report would not recommend whether or not to proceed with a massive expansion of the mine in Monywa Township in the country’s central Sagaing region.
“The report will not decide whether the project should proceed or not,” she said, adding that “only the findings [of the investigation] will be reported”.
The expansion sparked protests by local residents and monks early last month, as well as a police crackdown on them.
The report is expected to draw on an inspection of the site by a team from the Myanmar Environmental Institute (MEI). This inspection was conducted from December 24 to 30. The one-week investigation also included investigations of two other mining projects: Sabeitaung and Kyaysintaung.
Along with the opposition and MEI investigations, the Presidential Office appointed two experts to assess the environmental and social impacts of the copper mine, which is a joint venture between Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd., owned by Myanmar military and Chinese firms Wanbao Mining Ltd. and Yang Tze Copper Ltd.
The two experts discussed their findings with Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd. last Thursday, two days before the NLD MP said that her investigation team would release its report earlier than scheduled.
The goals of the MEI’s one-week probe included determining whether it was profitable for the state and the people, and whether its expansion should be allowed to continue, it said.
Khin San Hlaing said the report from her investigation commission would be very detailed, but it would leave it up to the president to decide whether or not to allow the controversial mine to expand.