Monday, January 28, 2013

Wan Bao says it will take legal action if Latpadaung copper mine project suspended

Monday, 28 January 2013 12:50 Saw Zin Nyi

The Wan Bao Company will have to resort to legal action if the Latpadaung copper mine project is suspended, the firm’s Rangoon-based administrative manager Myint Thein said.

A decision is pending on whether work should continue on the Latpadaung copper mine in Monywa, Sagaing Division. (Photo: Hein Htet / Mizzima)

The company would examine the agreement in detail to determine the exact amount of compensation to be claimed if the project was either stopped or suspended, he told Mizzima.

“We will resort to legal action in accordance with the agreement if the project is halted,” he said, adding: “Burma stands to lose a lot of investments if projects are suspended.”

However, he said that Burma and China are allied as partners, and that “we will negotiate with the Burmese government first.”

The Wan Bao Company has invested US $1 billion in the copper mine project, which is based in Monywa in Sagaing Division, near the Chindwin River. In 2010, it signed a contract with Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL) to extract copper ore from the site for a period of 30 years. UMEHL is backed by the Burmese military through the Ministry of Defense.

The leading beneficiaries from the Monywa mining project are firstly the Burmese government with a 16.8 percent share in profits, followed by UMEHL with 13.8 percent. Just 13.3 percent of profits would go to Wan Bao, despite the fact it appears to be the only financial backer of the scheme.

The project has been laced with controversy. Environmentalists, Buddhist monks and activists have opposed the copper mine and staged a sit-in rally which was violently broken up by riot police on November 29 last year.

Following the crackdown, a Latpadaung Inquiry Commission was established, chaired by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The commission is due to submit a report on the incident and an analysis of the project by the end of this month.
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