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Mining Business to Regain Some Success as Peace Comes to KNLA Brigade 6
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Mining Business to Regain Some Success as Peace Comes to KNLA Brigade 6

By AZAN

Monday, February 13, 2012

Many people, especially Karen, have turned their eyes to mining businesses at the Karen National Liberation Army Brigade 6 (KNLA)-controlled area. Simultaneously, more natural resource buyers were able to reach the area more easily as there was a ceasefire agreement between the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Burmese government, according to border sources.

Mining area in Shwe Kyin Township, Pegu Division

Capt. Ten Nay of KNLA Brigade 6 said, “There are currently about 1,000 people who are mining, including their families, in our Brigade 6 area, with more people still coming.

We allow for not only companies, but also for local people to have businesses. There is a preference to give mining areas to local people so that fewer trees are destroyed in the process. A smaller group of people would mean less destruction to the environment. 

He also said that more buyers, such as Kachin, Kokang, Shan, Chinese and local businessmen are coming to the open market in Kyar Inn Seik Gyi Township where local people and mining companies are selling antimony stones that have been transported from the KNLA Brigade 6-controlled area.

KNU owned rich, natural resources at KNLA Brigade 6, which has about 90 mines from Mae Kathar to Thabyut areas. The natural resources included: gold, antimony, zinc, tin and teak. There has been more antimony found from mining at KNLA Brigade 6. 

One ton of raw, high-quality antimony stones were 40,000 Baht. Currently, the lower quality is 25,000 Baht.

KNLA Brigade 6 is located about 30 milometers from Three Pagodas Pass, on the Thailand-Burma border. With the current ceasefire between KNU and the Burmese government, observers said that mining businesses would see a huge benefit for people living in the area.

One person can earn about 700 Baht a day from private mining. On the days they could not find antimony stones, however, people would sometimes earn no money for the day.

“If there is long-term peace, Three Pagodas Pass may see a bigger economic growth than Myawaddy in the future, as is rich in natural resources,” said Nai Seik Lyit, who is a local businessman in Three Pagodas Pass.

There are also Mon and Burmese businesses in the mining areas that sell food and vegetables. Some people also become drivers, transporting the antimony stones. Those working as antimony stone driver can earn 1,000 Baht a day.

Mining companies, including Thabyu Co. Ltd. and Thu Za Na Pwint, have been mining antimony stones in the KNLA Brigade 6-controlled area at Brigade 6.

The mining companies have received permission from Naypyidaw to mine in the KNLA area. The KNLA requires taxes to be paid by the private miners and companies.

Members of the KNU Committee for the Emergence of Peace signed two preliminary agreements with a government delegation on January 12th of this same year.Talks were led by Railways Minister, Aung Min, in the Karen state capital of Pa-an.

As a result of the peace agreement, the 64th anniversary of Karen National Day was held peacefully at KNLA Brigade this year.

The KNU has large areas of teak and hardwood at the KNLA Brigade 6 area, but since last year logging has been banned. There was a shortage of timber needed in furniture factories in Three Pagodas Pass since the logging ban in Brigade 6 by KNU last year. As a result, prices for timber are currently at double what they previously were.

One-ton of hardwood currently costs more than 20,000 Baht. In the past, the same would cost 8,000 Baht during the KNU allowed logging times.


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