Miner urges government to resume gold permit

In the Moehti Moemi mining district in Yamethin, Mandalay, out of the 600 viss of gold extracted by local share-partner companies, more than 500 viss were used to cover the operational cost, U Tun Aung Soe, executive director of National Prosperity Company (NPC) told The Myanmar Times.

Local businesses partnered up with the NPC, which was mining gold in Moehti Moemi area, in 2011-17. Over the period of six years, 607 viss of pure gold was extracted, and to receive the permit to continue mining, a news conference was held at the start of this month.

In order to crush around 1,500 tonnes of gold daily from the gold extracted by the local companies, some of it was used to cover the operational cost, U Tun Aung Soe explained.

“The local companies say that the big company gets 607 viss of gold, but in order for their operations to run, other aspects such as road, electricity, security, and accounting have to be managed and taken care of. Factories have to be built. In order for all this to happen, 501 viss were used to cover the cost. We have explained to them about this with statistics. The remaining 106 viss will be given to the government,” he said.

Moreover, although a percentage has been divided, the companies’ side has to cover the transport cost as the extracted gold was the only thing which gets distributed; if gold composition is little, the company has to run a loss.

“We have all the statistics and published them as well. Although they are locals, they were illegal miners in the past. What they submitted is not full gold but we had to use around 50 viss of gold to operate the whole business,” U Tun Aung Soe remarked.

They were illegally digging in the past and after the company won the auction, it helped them along and although these local businessmen bought 35 shares worth of K100 million each for K35 billion, only the share of K20 billion are left, said U Tun Aung Soe.

In carrying out gold mining, the company loaned around K60 billion to local businessmen for site equipments, gunpowder and other loans, NPC stated.

The local businessmen haven’t repaid the money to the company to this day yet, the executive director continued.

U Thein Soe, deputy permanent secretary from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation said in February that gold mining permit of NPC had already been revoked after the miner failed to pay a sum in gold owed to the government,.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 Union Solidarity and Development Party president U Thein Sein’s administration. Under that agreement, NPC was to pay over 70 viss 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 do so however, NPC has not been able to pay back its gold debts to the government. On February 17, the company received notice that its permit to mine for gold in Moehti Moemi will be revoked. For its part, NPC said it failed to pay what it owed because actual production of gold fell short of estimates. In a statement, NPC said at that time that if given a longer contract period during which it can improve its production rate, the gold debts can eventually be repaid.

The firm had already paid 218 viss of gold from 2012-15 and 118 viss during 2016-17, U Tun Aung Soe said in response, adding that the suspension has affected residents and jobs were destroyed. The firm is said to have invested nearly K100 billion in Moehti Moemi gold mining so far.

“NPC is going against the law by not paying back its debt. The ministry will be able to reconsider their permit only after they pay what is payable,” Amyotha Hluttaw Resources and Environmental Conservation committee member U Saw Soe Myint told The Myanmar Times in February.

Source : Myanmar Times

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