Myanmar’s autonomous Wa State has released an action plan for its total suspension of mining, beginning in August.
In April the government of Wa State, a self-governing region in the east of Myanmar, announced that from August it would suspend all mining activities indefinitely.
Myanmar is one of the world’s leading tin producers, and 95% of its tin comes from Wa State. The International Tin Association estimates that this is as much as 10% of the world’s tin supply.
The ITA claims that the move is an effort to formalise mining in the region and protect the local environment, thus preserving tin reserves for the future.
In a statement to local mining companies, the government of Wa state said that mines in the country must improve safety. It stated: “The state’s mines, open-pit mining areas and concentrators are to enhance safety measures in slag piles, tailings, roads and rivers prior to the rainy season to prevent safety hazards related to the mining halt.”
Wa’s government also decreed that miners must aid the Bureau of Industry and Mining in resolving disputes with workers regarding wages and debts owed.
Pumping of the mines will still be permitted in order to prevent mine damage. However, further mineral exploration will be prohibited.
In May 2022, an explosion at Wa State’s Man Maw mine killed nine and injured a further 30 workers. As a result, the Wa Government ordered a safety review, closing substandard mines for the period of the checks.
The suspension of mining in Wa State will likely have consequences for China. China currently imports more than 40,000 tonnes of tin from Myanmar, of which 70% comes from Wa State. The three-month price of tin jumped by 9% after the initial announcement.