Mining, Oil & Gas

In November 2012, locals protesting about the environmental and social impact of the Letpadaung copper mine in Sagaing Region, a joint venture between a Chinese company and a Myanmar military enterprise, were subjected to a brutal police crackdown. The mine's construction was subsequently suspended pending the investigation and conclusion of a parliamentary commission, chaired by Aung San Suu Kyi. The commission's recommendation was that the mining company resume operations, but only if certain conditions were met, such as better transparency and an environmental impact plan.

In 2014 Suu Kyi accused Thein Sein's government of ignoring the commission’s recommendations. That same year clashes between police and farmers at the site left one farmer dead and dozens injured. Protestors were out in force again in May 2016, as the mining company reattempted to restart production at the site. The NLD's position is that operations can resume once the recommendations of the inquiry commission are met, but many locals want nothing less than the mine's cancellation.

Such democratic levels of transparency are something new for Myanmar's extractive industries. Also facing criticism for its adverse environmental impact is the Shwe Gas Project, a joint venture between the government's Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) and Indian and South Korean companies for the underwater extraction of natural gas and oil from the Bay of Bengal and its piping across Myanmar to China. The natural gas pipeline became operational in 2013, the oil pipeline in 2014.