U Ohn Win, Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation

Established in 2013, the main aim of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation is to provide environmental preservation in the exploration of mineral resources, to emphasize the rehabilitation of abandoned mines and to ensure production and marketing of mineral commodities that will fulfil the domestic demands and promote the country’s export. U Ohn Win, Minister, discusses country’s challenges in the mining and forestry sector, highlighting the future perspectives.

European Times: What are some of the recent developments in Myanmar’s mining sector?

U Ohn Win: Concerning the natural resources, our main aim is to provide extraction and usage of the natural resources in a sustainable manner, harmonizing its development and conservation.

Recently, the country made important changes in the investment and mining law, promoting open policy for foreign investments that are willing to ensure entrance of international know-how and expertise, with an obligation to employ local people. Currently there are 12 foreign companies investing in Myanmar’s mining sector and working with minerals such as copper, nickel, marble, lead, tin-tungsten and jewels, and six foreign companies that are conducting their mining activities.

Our greatest challenge in the field is the lack of technology and financial capital and the provision of needed security in the mining areas near the country’s borders.

European Times: Myanmar obtains forest coverage of 43% of the whole country area. What is the Ministry undertaking to preserve the country’s forests?

U Ohn Win: According to the Forests Resource Assessment in 2015, Myanmar is the third highest deforestation country in the world. Considering this, Myanmar’s Government developed a ten-year National Forestation Program aiming to provide reforestation and forest conservation. The program is technically supported by the Japanese Government and Norway organizations, and the country is looking forward to receiving financial support from the international financial institutions.

European Times: What are some of the Ministry’s projects?

U Ohn Win: The Ministry has established scientific collaborations with the Korean Government, the Geological Survey of Japan and a geological organization from Germany. The Gem Trade Centre is established with an aim to organize the jewellery exports, and the country is cooperating with a third-party company in order to prevent the destructive environmental impact from the production of gems, a project worth US$600.000.

European Times: Why should foreign investors target Myanmar’s mining sector?

U Ohn Win: Myanmar has very interesting geological structure. The country possesses the world’s largest jade deposits, is rich with tin-tungsten, precious metals and oil and gas basins. Myanmar is the native country of the Teak wood, one of the most famous species in the world and many foreign investors are interested in Teak timber plantations investments. The country is currently working on developing new gem stone legislative which will provide additional facilitation for the entrance of foreign investors.