Some of the companies operating in the land extraction sector (mining and digging in quarries) in Paung are concerned the Mon State government may have plans to close down quarrying activities in Paung Township, Mon State.

A Mon State government representative stated verbally to the media that quarrying operations may be shut down following the recent collapse of Ma-Lat Mountain in Thae Phyu Kone village, Paung on August 10.

At that time, the Mon State government indicated they were prepared to charge the companies operating the quarry in accordance with the law. As reported by the Mon News Agency on August 21, led by the Ministry of Irrigation, a group of geophysicists has been inspecting the area, and the Mon State government will announce the results of this inspection.

To date, no further official statement has been released.

“We are very worried. This is because our project is not done yet. We are worried since the closure [due to the landslide] will result to both companies that have been permitted to quarry and the companies that have not been permitted,” said U Taung Thin Oo, one of the owners of companies operating a quarry in Paung Township.

U Taung Thin Oo believes that since the government granted the license for the companies to operate a quarry, it should first conduct a re-inspection and analysis. His company will be affected if the government closed down the company for any period of time. U Taung Thin Oo’s company was contracted to extract the soil to be used for a paved road connecting between Kyoay Chan and Ah lat, in Paung Township. This project was scheduled to be completed in September.

U Thein Thin, the Administrator of Ah-Lat village, Paung Township noted delays are not uncommon in this industry. He said, “The companies can get the contracts where they are available and where they can be provided. They can negotiate with the people who gave contracts regarding the land[soil] issues. In fact, this issue has happened a long time ago. They have to halt for one and a half months.”

The State Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Dr. Min Kyi Win, offered another perspective. “Just the start of the quarry causes damages to the environment. But if it’s not granted to quarry, what would be used for road construction? So, that’s also a problem. We will review all the companies and decide which companies should be closed and which companies can proceed with their projects. I am not yet aware of the situation of closing down the operation.”

Dr. Min Kyi Win noted the collapse of the mountain was due to many factors including man-made ones, but also due to extreme weather events.

For the road paving and rock quarry project in Paung Township, 25 companies were granted a 30-year license for quarry operations at 4 locations.

According to the Mon State Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation data for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, 22 rock quarry companies received licenses to operate in forest reserve areas while 88 companies were granted licenses to operate in garden land areas.