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Mawlamyine plant may not have proper power plant permission

Myanmar: A controversial 0.5Mt/yr cement plant in Mon State’s Kyaikmayaw Township has apparently not sought permission from the Ministry of Electricity and Energy in order to generate power, according to the ministry itself.

This has rekindled demands from local residents that the plant cease production. The US$400m plant, run by Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL), is a joint venture between Thailand’s Siam Cement and Pacific Link Cement Industries. It is powered by a 49MW coal-fired power plant.

The committee for the assessment of financial, planning and economic matters in the Mon State Parliament asked the Ministry of Electricity and Energy in a letter on 7 August 2017 about the coal-fired power facilities at the cement factory. The ministry replied on 14 August 2017 that MCL had not sought permission to run the power plant.

“From the ministry’s reply, we can confirm that MCL didn’t follow the electricity law. It did discuss with the ministry the installation of two 20MW but it didn’t get any permission,” said U Aung Kyaw Thu, speaking to local press. This was contradicted by MCL’s U Zaw Lwin Oo, who said, “The industry ministry gave its approval for the production of 20MW on 19 March 2017.” He said that MCL has two 20MW turbines and a 9MW spare turbine, but the industry ministry has only given approval for 20MW.

There may be ambiguity as to whether the plant uses more than its permitted 20MW at any one time. According to the 2008 Constitution, heavy-scale electricity production-classified as 30MW and above-needs the approval of the government.

Dr Aung Naing Oo, deputy speaker of the Mon State Parliament, said that he welcomed the MCL’s investment in the state, but that its procedures are less transparent than he would like them to be. “We should welcome investment but, at the same time, we need to see if those investments are legal and serve the stated purposes. In any case, if there is no permission under the electricity law, the factory should not operate,” he told The Irrawaddy newspaper.

The factory started commercial operations in April 2017 despite local opposition. On 18 February, around 7000 locals from seven villages near the factory staged a protest against the coal-fired power plant. In April 2016, locals sent a petition with 3780 signatures to the President’s Office, demanding the termination of the project.

Source: global cement

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