Myanmar’s mining enterprises are facing delays in receiving permits after a newly proposed bill aimed at relaxing the central government’s exclusive control over mining operations in the country stirred debate in the parliament.
The Mineral and Resource Committee of the Upper House recently drafted a new mining bill and submitted it to the Lower House. The Bill Committee of the Lower House said a provision in the bill that allows joint mining operations between the central and regional governments goes against the country’s constitution.
“We need to discuss further as [the new bill] contradicts the constitution,” told Dr Soe Moe Aung, a member of the Bill Committee.
Dr Soe Moe Aung said the newly proposed bill must be closely analysed to ensure regional government mining doesn’t undercut the country’s constitutional framework. State and regional governments will discuss the proposal in their respective parliaments to resolve the dispute, he said.
A mine operator from Kayah state told Myanmar Business Today that mining firms’ permit requests will be delayed by the government’s revision process.
“The delay to get mining field permits will affect the development of special areas,” he said, referring to Myanmar’s underdeveloped and conflict-ridden states such as Kachin and Kayah, which are rich in mineral resources.
In June, Myanmar was accepted as a “candidate country” to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) which requires the union government to disclose the financial statements and agreements between the state and mining companies to the public.
Ko Win Aung from the multi-stake holder group that is coordinating Myanmar’s accession into the EITI, an international standard that ensures transparency around countries’ oil, gas and mineral resources, said his group doesn’t accept constitutional restrictions preventing regional governments from operating mining fields in their respective states.
“These restrictions should not exist,” Ko Win Aung told Myanmar Business Today.
The EITI requires Myanmar government to produce social impact assessment reports and ensure that any mining bill passed takes into account all industry stakeholders.