Kangon Village is the largest of the villages surrounding the MYTCL lease area.
About the Village of Kangon
U Myint Than Swe is 50 years of age and the first re-elected CSD Team Representative for the brazen Kangon Village. These are very complex times for Kangon, which is located adjacent to the S&K Mine Project and established directly on the alluvial plains of the ancient waterways of the Chindwin and Yama. Villagers are high on the list of priority to receive job opportunities, promotions from within the organisation, as well as CSD and CSR projects to help improve the community’s quality of life. But the complexities run deep for some of the villagers, and land compensation and historical injustices are pushed onto MYTCL to repair, recompense and manage. Unfortunately, along with their cries of despair from days gone by comes activist intervention and illegal disturbances to the mining operations. Not an easy job for our CSD members to act as mediators between.
“ Surely some villagers like me and some even hate me, but I believe that I am doing the right thing and in an honest way...”
There are approximately 4,014 persons living in this village that is self-supporting and has the majority of its inhabitants working in areas outside of the MYTCL copper mine. 170 persons are employed at MYTCL, composing 4.23% of the village’s total population. U Myint Than Swe comments on the attitudes and perceptions of his fellow villagers.
“ The employment rate from our village is very low compared to the population, and often people complain about this fact. But then they go and protest at the gates, or threaten to stop the mine because the past owners and government have not fully compensated them. They want jobs from the mine and they want the mine to stop. Things are very complicated.”
Corporate Social Responsibility
The Kangon Village, together with the Dondaw Village, was offered the largest donation works regarding CSR since the MYTCL organisation took over the S&K Project. In 2014, a total of 83.26 acres of Tailings were removed from the village areas where artisanal miners had stockpiled waste and Tailings from the previous mine activities. These “Tailings” are composed of ore laden ground rock and are highly acid generating when in contact with water. They originated from the eras of the Flotation Mining Production that did not have the environmental considerations in place that MYTCL has today. MYTCL acknowledged the tremendous impact this artisanal mining had on the environment, and for the health of those within the region. Tailings were 4-5 metres deep in places, and rainwater during the Monsoon seasons caused significant impacts to the groundwater of the area.
The costs of this project totalled $13,523.55 USD per acre to remove the Tailings, and then to cover the area with a clayey topsoil to assist with encapsulating any existing ground contamination. The actual estimated land value of the area is currently at a maximum purchase price of $2,000 USD/acre for best quality farmland. Incredibly, Myanmar Yang Tse Copper Limited was stopped by land-owners and the project came to an end in April of 2014 under the estimate budget of $1,950,000.00. With a completion total of $1,125,970.41, 280,434 cubic metres of Tailings had been removed and placed into the Tailings Storage Facilities on the S&K Project for future rehabilitation. These lands were then returned to the land-owners for habitable re-use.
- There is 1 High School, a clinic, and the village supports electricity. There are tube wells for water provided by MEHL and MYTCL, and there is also a library and an institute Society donated in the 2014 budget of MYTCL for Community and Social Development Projects.
- The village manages 4 Monasteries named Laynhin Taung, Mahar Sanparyon, Mahar Bawdi and Sasana Yakemon. The Head Monk of this village is U Veponla.
- The elected Village Administrator is U Aung Than.
“ I will not stop pursuing the wishes of my people, despite some that now wish to replace me as CSD. I will continue to do my duty for the whole of my village and improve the quality of our land, our water and to remove the rest of the contamination that has been left from previous companies and held onto by the villages. MYTCL management is very patient with my village, and I must be also, making our people understand that fighting against MYTCL is not a good future. I too was this way when I began with the CSD only 2 years ago. I replaced a CSD member who my village thought was weak and not supporting the community. Now that I have been in place these 2 years they want to replace me. You can see how difficult things are for MYTCL. But we will not quit. I have self-confidence that what we are doing with MYTCL is right for everyone. Even for those who do not understand.”
Community & Social Development
The CSR/CSD projects forecast for 2015-16 reflected even further the division of unity within the village of Kangon. An enormous water project was budgeted with nearly $65,000 USD dedicated to improvements to water facilities and annual works. Despite the negotiations with village leaders, the water project was cancelled because the villagers did not agree with the water source and demanded water directly from the Chindwin River. This demand was an impossibility for an annual budget by MYTCL due to the millions of dollars it would have required for such a project. Nevertheless the project has been taken into consideration for a more long-term development programme to be led by the Myanmar government.
In 2016-17 a budget of $39,875 USD was set aside for the construction of a school fence and for major renovations and an extension to a monastic building.
The complexities of the Kangon Village continue to be the greatest challenge for the MYTCL development, as well as for the environmental safety of the region. The Tailings areas that had been refused by the majority of land-owners to be allowed to be cleaned through a CSR project in 2013-14 remains the eye-sore of the country. Great effort is placed on creating harmony with the village, but the splintered factions that exist in its leadership core make growth slow and laborious. The village on the whole supports MYTCL, however a few find it their goal to constantly fight against the CSR programs, or to insist on cash and not adhere to the public tender systems for clearly open and fair contracts. Nevertheless the CSR Department and the CSD representative for Kangon keep open channels for negotiations and for transparency to encourage development.