National Prosperity Company to be sued over gold debt

The National Prosperity Company (NPC), which has been mining gold at Moehti Moemi mine in Yamethin township, Mandalay, will face civil charges over its remaining gold debt to the state amid the termination of its contract, said U Khin Maung Win, deputy general manager of the mining enterprise No. 2 and branch head of the planning department.

On February 17, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation revoked the company’s mining permit for large-scale production at plot A. Accordingly, the company must cease its activity 90 days after receiving the termination letter with an expiry date of May 17.

“After the contract is terminated, the department should still receive some gold. Thus, we’re trying to get advice from the Mandalay Advocate General’s Office to act in accordance with the law,” said U Khin Maung Win on Friday.

Delays in retrieving the gold debt may occur as prosecuting is made according to a civil suit, said the head of the project.

The gold mining permit of NPC, was revoked after the owner failed to pay a sum in gold owed to the government.

NPC entered into a 5-year contract with the government to mine for gold in the resource-rich Moehti Moemi area in 2011, during former president U Thein Sein’s administration. According to the agreement, NPC was to pay over 70 viss (112 kilograms) of gold per month to the government in exchange for the right to mine for gold in the area, starting from April 2012.

Despite two prior opportunities to pay its debt, the NPC has not been able to pay back its debts to the government. On February 17, the company received notice that its permit to mine for gold in Moehti Moemi will be revoked.

The company requested in 2013 a 3-year contract extension, citing difficulties in producing enough gold to pay the government. The extension was approved by the President’s Office. Under the new contract, NPC must pay a total of 5.577 tonnes of gold to the government by September 2019, when the contract expires. So far, the company has only repaid 330 viss of gold to the government.

“We are preparing to prosecute NPC once the large scale extracting permit is revoked. We will cooperate with the Mandalay Advocate General Office and will discuss this with the district as we need to prosecute at that level,” said U Khin Maung Win.

On November 7, 2017, the ministry warned the NPC in a notice letter to stop mining on November 8 as the company could not pay the outstanding gold debt to the government.

“They (company) broke promises many times. And so, we put a stop to their business on November 7. They didn’t follow instructions and continued to work, so it all escalated to the point of revoking their permit,” he told The Myanmar Times.

After retrieving the remaining gold owed, litigation will begin and permissions to take over the mine will be given via legal tender for halted gold production sites or other methods, said U Khin Maung Win.

“We will have legal proceedings for this site. After settling with them (company) to give back the sites, we will report to our supervisors and begin proceedings to take legal action,” he said.

As over 10,000 people depend on and work for the NPC in Moehti Moemi, the company has been urged to take care of its employees’ transition as well.

Source: Myanmar Times

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