The Sagaing Region government will issue licences to illegal gold miners in a bid to curb their activities and rope in extra tax money into state coffers, a top official said.
The ministry will inspect mining sites in Sagaing and issue illegal miners licences by this month, U Than Htike, Sagaing regional minister for forestry and mining, told Myanmar Business Today.
“Taking such measure will increase the state’s revenue,” he said.
The Chindwin riverbank along Homalin township in Myanmar’s Sagaing region is the most productive gold field in the country and illegal mining in recent years has been rampant, the authorities say. With an increase in illegal mining, Chindwin river’s navigability has dwindled as sandbanks kept forming along the river.
“Those gold miners only seek their benefits, they never think about the side effects. People who live in the lower part of the river are now faced with the possibility of environmental disasters,” the regional minister said.
The minister said legalising the illegal miners will make it easier for the authorities to control their activities, thus preventing environmental damage.
An illegal gold miner who recently suspended his mining after the regional government started taking stern actions said that previously the illegal gold miners carried on with their activities by negotiating with the local authorities.
The miner, who has a medium-sized mining activity, admitted this [illegal mining] is a violation of law, but said that previously it was very difficult for illegal miners to apply for licences.
“But, as the government is now offering licences, I will apply,” he said requesting anonymity.
There are about 300 gold mining sites in Homalin township in the upper part of Chindwin river, but only a few are legal.