Myanmar mineral exports slump to $776 mln amid COVID-19 pandemic

The value of Myanmar’s mineral exports has drastically sunk to US$776.737 million as of 9 July in the current financial year 2020-2021 since 1 October, reflecting a severe drop of $776.917 million as against a-year period, the Ministry of Commerce’s data indicated.
The mineral exports hit over $1.5 billion in the corresponding period of last FY.
The coronavirus related disruptions led to the slump in mineral exports this FY. The heightened COVID-19 measures also shut down the events like gem emporium and expo last year, a trader said.
So far, excavation of over 1,250 mining blocks has been permitted on a manageable, small, medium, and large scale, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.
Due to limited extraction of natural resources, exports of forest products and minerals had dropped significantly in the previous years. Permits for mining blocks were suspended in 2016, but after a period of two years, Myanmar’s mining sector has now been opened to local and foreign investors, according to the ministry.
Within two years of the implementation of the Myanmar Mines Law, the Mining Department approved more than 140 out of 3,000 proposed mining blocks, and many more blocks are to be granted permit.
The Myanmar Mines Law was enacted on 24 December, 2015, but the law came into force when the rules were issued on 13 February, 2018.
Under the new regulations, foreign firms can invest in large blocks which cover up to 500,000 acres (about 202,000 hectares), while local firms can invest in all kinds of blocks. Investors can seek permit to mine for minerals such as gold, copper, lead and tin. The permits cover prospecting, exploration, and production.
Myanmar’s mineral exports have shown a marked increase in the previous FY 2019-2020, touching $1.87 billion, an increase of $405.48 million compared with the year-ago period, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.
Oil and natural gas are included in the list of major export items of Myanmar. About six per cent of the country’s total export earnings come from the sale of natural gas. About 80 per cent of mineral products are shipped to external markets through maritime trade route, while 20 of them are sent to neighbouring countries through border trade channels.—Htet Myat/GNLM

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