Mining applications flow in, but few are complete

Over 1000 applications have been received for mining blocks since July, according to U Min Min Oo, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) at the 4th annual general meeting of Myanmar Federation of Mining Association held last week.

However, only 193 of all the applications received are complete, he said.

Major discrepancies in the applications include applying for overlapping blocks, already-permitted blocks and a single block by more than one person, U Min Min Oo said

“Applications with complete data will be submitted to the ministry. They can take one to six months to process, depending on how quickly the regions and states can respond,” he told the media.

The government started re-accepting mining applications in July after a 2-year hiatus in July 2016. On February 13, newly enacted mining rules allowed foreign companies to invest in large-scale sites of more than 500,000 acres (202,000 hectares) as well as medium scale sites of up to 247.1 acres.

MONREC will also allow investments in small-scale mining sites for gold and other precious metals of up to 4 acres, sites of up to 10 acres for other minerals and sites for raw industrial materials and precious stones of up to 20 acres.

The rules follow the new Mining Law released in December 2015 to replace 1994 legislation. “The amended mining law was enacted in 2015 and the rules were enacted in 2018. During the gap period of three years, mining businesses faced problems but as the rules have been enforced now, these problems are expected to be solved in near future,” said Myanmar Federation of Mining Association’s Patron U Myint Thein.

The new rules are intended to promote foreign and domestic investments while enforcing environmental controls on mining companies.

Under the new laws, new mining activities may commence after the first three stages – exploration, testing and feasibility studies – are conducted to help companies determine the commercial viability and sustainability of the mine.

So far, no medium and large size blocks have been approved for mining. However, the state and regional authorities last month gave several investors the green light to mine in small-scale blocks.

U Wai Lin Aung, spokesperson from Sagaing, said the region has been planning to sign contracts with 35 companies to conduct mining activities small and manageable size gold mining blocks in Hkamti, Homalin and Banmauk Townships.

“The new law grants authority to regional and state governments to approve small blocks but only the Union government has the authority to approve large-scale and medium-scale blocks for mining,” said U Min Min Oo.


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