Mining ministry takes five firms to court over annual fees

Five small gold producers will be taken to court for not providing agreed-on amounts of gold to the government, according to U Aye Kyaw, a director at the Ministry of Mines.

“We have tried to connect with them by notice and visits to get the companies to pay the gold that they owe before the financial year ends. Some of them responded that they would pay when we visited their office, but then came and only paid part of what they owe,” he told The Myanmar Times.

The five companies drawing ministry ire are Ann Phwe Kabar, Moe Thoute Kyeh Thit, Seven Century, Aung Sit Thwe and Myanmar Htawara Company. They were named by the ministry in the last week of March.
The case will take place in Nay Pyi Taw at the Dekkhinathiri district court.

The ministry has also requested legal advice from experts, he said.

“Some companies can pay the amount of gold they owe, but are watching the response of the government,” he said. “So we will move toward prosecuting them, but it can be withdrawn if they pay.”

Companies approved to extract gold by the Ministry of Mines generally make payments in kind. The payments are generally only waved in the face of natural disaster or conflict at the site.

U Aye Kyaw said some companies are also a group, with the same managing director, but working under different names, which can complicate the picture.

He added the five companies under criticism are operating in Sagaing Region, Mandalay Region and Kachin State, on sites of about 20 acres and with permits lasting for 3 to 5 years.

These types of permits were relatively common until the change in government in 2011, when the ministry began switching to a cash-based annual payment for leases.

U Aye Kyaw said that while five firms are being prosecuted, over 40 companies have not kept up their payments.

“Some companies were not working at their extractive sites, but they didn’t tell the ministry. They are waiting to resell to their partners through an understanding, but this is not legal,” he said.

Myanmar has also been working on a new Mining Law, though industry insiders say the process has taken much longer than was initially anticipated.

Source: Myanmar Times

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