Local partners criticise mining firm that owes government money

Mine workers marched to protest against the gold mining firm National Prosperity Co (NPC), which the government ordered closed in November last year for not paying the government its share of mining revenue.

About 200 workers from 22 local firms in Moehti Moemi mining area of Yamethin township in Mandalay Region held the protest at a park on Tuesday.

“National Prosperity Co and local national firms are not one and the same, as many people think. We want to clarify to the public and the government that we are not the same. We shareholders have already paid fully the company what we owed to the state,” said U Tin Nyunt Oo, managing director of Yay Taw Thar Co, a subcontractor of NPC.

“The default by the company to pay the state is another thing. It doesn’t concern us. The government has ordered the company to suspend work, so we stopped our activities. We want the government to know the situation,” he added.

The protesters accused NPC of “cheating” the government.

We call (on NPC) to pay the 607 viss (989 kilogrammes) of gold it owes to the government,” the protesters said.

The No. 2 Mine under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Concervation informed the NPC to stop operation in November for its failure to pay the government its rightful share of gold extracted in its concession area.

The NPC was granted Block A which spans 6105 acres (24 square kilometres) to mine for gold in Moehti Moemi. All NPC’s contracts were cancelled on February 17, due to defaulting on its gold debt.

But NPC officials said their failure to pay the debts was due to a discrepancy between raw production described in the auction and actual production.

Twenty-nine local firms worked with NPC starting in 2011 after buying 35 shares at K100 million each. Those firms have paid 607 viss of gold to NPC to be remitted to the government.

NPC extracted 3515.6384 viss of gold but paid only 338 viss to the government, which was half of the amount given by the local firms, according to the subcontractors.

“Even though they say they’re paying the government, we know nothing about it. We only learned there were debts when the final notice came, stating that the sites will be halted. Their side is wrong – they are not paying, even though they can. Even if only half of it can be paid, that’s alright as it’s for the country and the people. We want everyone to know that we are no longer working with them,” said U Soe Win Myint of Gandaya Sein Company, an NPC subcontractor.

U Tun Aung Soe, NPC managing director, told The Myanmar Times that they will discuss the problem with the government.

“We’re not saying there are no gold debts; this is something the two sides have to negotiate,” he said.

The local companies want to restart gold mining as soon as possible, since they employ 1000 miners and 3000 people depend on them for their livelihoods, the protesters said.

“Since the company halted work, the workers haven’t been paid, causing difficulties for their families. I want operations to restart as soon as possible,” said Ko Kyaw Thu, a resident of Yamethin township.

Last week, workers of the NPC and their supporters held a demonstration in the administrative capital of Nay Pyi Taw, calling on the government to immediately allow the company to resume operations.

Source: Myanmar Times

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