- By U Zaw Bo Khant
A roundtable business discussion was held at MRTV in Nay Pyi Taw, during which matters relating to challenges and opportunities of the mining sector were discussed by U Khin Latt Kyi, Director General of the Department of Mines under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Dr. Ye Myint Swe, Director General of Department of Geological Servey and Mineral Exploration, U Aung Nyunt Thein, Managing Director of Myanmar Gems Enterprise, and U Zaw Bo Khant, Vice Chairman of Myanmar Gems and Jewellery Entrepreneurs Association.
Q: Shall we start asking the first question to the director general of Department of Geological Servey and Mineral Exploration? Could you let us know how you are planning to link up with international organizations to improve the mining sector?
Dr. Ye Myint Swe: We are planning to link up with other international organizations for the sustainable development of the mining sector in Myanmar. We have been conducting research, in cooperation with Korea Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, in the Bopebon Mountain in Tiddim Township, Chin State, for the past two years. Similarly, we are doing research jointly with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation in Shan State, Taninthayi and Sagaing regions. More research on the development of mineral resources is in the pipeline.
We completed a project last year. With the cooperation of Geological Survey of Finland, we have drawn up a number of geological maps using digital format, and produced geological resources data based on GIS. With the cooperation of JICA, we have produced mineral resources website data base, using training programme resources and sharing mineral information.
All ASEAN nations, including Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Viet Nam, have conducted research on mineral deposits and geology in Tachilek and Shan State. Geological research was done in 2018 jointly with Thailand Mineral Resources Department.
Q: I think natural resources extraction has become one of the country’s important sector and transparency is also of great importance. In this regard, could you explain the implementation process of an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)?
U Khin Latt Kyi: As for the mineral sector, we have made commitments to implement the EITI process and Myanmar has been accepted as an EITI candidate country. Efforts have been made to become a full member of EITI, after its application for its candidature was approved by the International EITI board. The government has taken important steps with work done in the creation of a multi-stakeholders group and formulation of work plan for EITI implementation in Myanmar. The EITI is a global coalition of governments, companies and civil societies working together to improve openness of revenues from natural resources, with the vision of bringing transparency and accountability in a clearer version into the hands of the citizens. Moreover, Myanmar had submitted its EITI report for the second time in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, and for the third time in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, respectively, to the EITI Board.
In August 2018, officials of the EITI Board came to Myanmar to review and analyze the reports that we submitted, and necessary arrangements have been made preceding the procedures. Myanmar’s admission to the EITI is very crucial and to be a full member of it is dependent upon the review of results.
Q: How would extracting gems mines serve the interests of the nationals and the development of the state?
U Zaw Bo Khant: Gems are the most valuable resources of our country, and all of us should be part of this mining sector. Also, we are all duty bound to take part in this process, especially those lawmakers who are deeply involved in it. As for law-makers, they should enact mining and jade laws relevant with international standards.
All businesspersons like us have to follow the rules and regulations and should make a mine closure plan, that includes responsibility, accountability and all-inclusiveness. In this regard, cooperation is of great importance in successfully carrying out all the necessary stages. Next, all gems and jewellery businesses need to be registered first, in order to pay taxes, so that we can, in turn, maintain the stable prices of the jewellery makings, manufacturing process and market in the long run.
U Zaw Bo Khant: I want to raise a question that has been in my mind for some time. Our country is endowed with jewellery, and although we have held a number of Gems Emporiums for the past 60 years, why isn’t our market thriving as much as those in our neighbouring countries. I would like to ask the Managing Director how this should be handled.
U Aung Nyunt Thein: We can gain better prices if we can make value-added and finished products to earn more foreign currency as well as create more employment opportunities for the people. As U Zaw Bo Khant discussed earlier, although our country is endowed with natural resources, it is found that the markets in other countries have been thriving. Arrangements should be made to revitalize our country’s gems market, with the cooperation of relevant ministries and gems businesses. We will have to encourage and render help to those who will trade in manufactured products. At the same time, more efforts should be made to produce skilled workers for the enterprises. Thanks to these efforts, we were able to set up the Gems Training Center at Shwe Kyar Pin in Nay Pyi Taw. Up to now, we have already opened the second batch of training classes, where young people can receive training in gems and jewelry manufacturing processes. We also need investment and technical knowhow to get market shares with ease. Opening a gems trading center is fulfilling a necessity, in cooperation with other ministries concerned. I also want to have other business personnel involved in this matter. As U Zaw Bo Khant discussed earlier, our country is in need of managing the gems market to gain appropriate prices for the precious stones produced as a primary source in our country.
Q: Regarding the jewellery sector, it would be good to put on sales a polished product comparable to what you get in other markets. Could you elaborate on it?
U Zaw Bo Khant: Our country owns some opportunities and advantages in becoming a gems manufacturing market, and there are also some challenges as well. The advantage is that the whole world takes a liking to our gems that originate from us. The challenges are that there are some better markets in our neighbouring countries, and we should not be weak in using our techniques. To make it a success, all stakeholders are duty bound to carry out the marketing strategy.
Regarding the setting up of laws and bylaws, individuals need to take up good practices, employees should be supervised to mitigate unlawful acts and bullying at worksites. We also have to abide by laws, and action should be taken against those who violate it. Cooperation is the key to implement these processes.
Win Ko Ko Aung