Canadian company to pursue lithium exploration in Myanmar

AsiaBaseMetals Inc announced its entry into the Myanmar mining sector last week. The Canada-based miner will focus on mining lithium and has already obtained the necessary documents that will enable it to submit investment proposals to the Myanmar Investment Commission.

Once submitted and if approved, AsiaBaseMetals will be the first company to venture into the systematic exploration of lithium in Myanmar, according to the company’s statement.

AsiaBaseMetals will submit an application for the grant of exploration permits for lithium on mineral claims comprising approximately 74 square kilometres located 14 kilometres from the town of Thazi in Central Myanmar. The company believes the area contains mountainous pegmatite-bearing granites which favour the existence of lithium deposits.

Lithium is a chemical compound that is used mainly in medicine as well as in the making of aircraft and certain batteries.

“The company’s planned entry into the lithium space, starting especially in Myanmar, a country having both China and India as neighbours who may well represent the largest users of batteries in the world, is a significant move,” said Raj Chowdhry, the President, CEO and chair of AsiaBaseMetals.

Interest in the Myanmar mining industry is rising after the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) started re-accepting mining applications in July 2018 after a 2-year hiatus. On February 13, 2018, 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 enactment of the rules last year follows the new Mining Law released in December 2015 to replace 1994 legislation. 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.

During the last fiscal year, mineral products accounted for around 12pc, or some US$1.8 billion worth of exports, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Based on government estimates, the mining industry’s contribution to GDP is expected to grow by 7.5 percent for the period between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019.

According to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, investments in the mining sector contributed to 3.7pc of total approved foreign direct investments since 1988 totaling US$77.8 billion.

Source: Myanmar Times

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