Russian state-owned company Rostec completed the Pinpet Iron Plant in 2015 in Taunggyi, Shan State, Myanmar. / Rostec

Through The Irrawaddy June 15, 2021

Myanmar’s regime plans to reopen Steel Plant No.2 (Pinpet) in Shan State, which was closed more than four years ago. The plant, located near Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, is a joint iron mining and processing project between the military company Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and the Russian state-owned company Tyazhpromexport.

On Monday, the military regime and their Russian counterparts discussed the resumption of the Pinpet project during a meeting in Naypyitaw between the Russian Ambassador to Myanmar, Dr Nikolay Listopadov, and Dr Charlie Than, the Minister of Industry. appointed by the regime.

A junta-controlled newspaper said on Tuesday that the Russian ambassador and the junta minister also discussed the possibility of bringing in Russian technical experts to inspect the steel plant, as well as bilateral economic relations such as production. drugs under the respective ministries of the two countries. and work together on rubber and clothing production.

Until its suspension in early 2017, the steelworks construction project was managed under a contract between MEC and VO Tyazhpromexport, a subsidiary of Rostec (Russian State Company).

Located in war-torn Shan State, the Pinpet Project turned the area, Mount Pinpet, or Pine Tree Mountain, into the country’s largest iron mine.

It is built on 5,260 acres of land in Pinpet, about 13 kilometers from Taunggyi.

The project, which began in 2004, was to produce 200,000 tonnes of pig iron and 720,000 tonnes of iron ore.

In 2014, the Ministry of Industry, under the quasi-civilian government led by President U Thein Sein of the Union Party for Solidarity and Development, reached an agreement worth 137 million euros. with Tyazhpromexport to produce iron ore for commercial use using the Russian Romlet process.

Cast iron was to be used as a raw material for steel production at the No.1 Steel Plant of Myingyan Steel Plant [which is also suspended], in the Mandalay region.

In September 2016, the state agency Global News Light of Myanmar – citing geological studies – announced that mines near the plant could potentially produce 10.7 million tonnes of hematite iron ore with 56 , 4 percent ownership of iron ore and 59.3 million tonnes of limonite iron ore. with 42.6 percent ownership of iron ore.

Commissioning of the Pinpet plant was scheduled for the end of 2016.

However, the project was halted in March 2017, after the National League for Democracy led by parliament inspected 24 loss-making state factories, and have suspended their operations largely for financial reasons. Construction and operation of the Pinpet mine and the Myingyan steel plant have been halted.

In 2017, former ministers in charge of the Ministry of Industry, including U Soe Thane and former Mingin lower house lawmaker U Maung Myint, criticized Parliament’s decision to halt construction and operation of these factories.

The Pinpet mine and iron processing plant have had a severe negative impact on the ethnic Pa-O populations living in the area and on the environment, as documented by the local youth organization Pa-O ( PYO) in its 2009 report “Robbing the Future”. The report claims that the mining project threatens the local Pa-O community.

PYO Report said a total of 7,000 people from 25 villages could be permanently displaced from their homes and farmland by the projects. Another 35,000 people depend on water from the Thabet River in the Hopong Valley east of Mount Pinpet.

A resident of Hopong told The Irrawaddy that he had not seen any activity near the project since its suspension in 2017. Another resident said he had heard about the resumption of the project and did not want to not that it reboots.

China and Russia have both backed the junta in Myanmar since their February 1 coup, saying the military takeover is an internal matter.

Defense ties between Russia and Myanmar have grown stronger in recent years, with Moscow selling weapons to a blacklisted army in several Western countries for alleged atrocities against civilians, as well as providing military training and scholarships. academics to thousands of soldiers.

Russia said in March that it wanted to further strengthen its military ties with Myanmar despite the coup. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin attended the Burmese military’s celebration of Armed Forces Day on March 27, even as the international community denounced the coup.

Coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing met Russian Defense Minister General Sergei Shoigu in Naypyitaw on January 21, just 10 days before the military takeover.

In May, a high-ranking junta delegation led by Air Force chief General Maung Maung Kyaw traveled to Moscow to attend an exhibition of Russian military helicopters. They would have discussed over 20 megaprojects with their Russian counterparts, including the purchase of weapons and military equipment.

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