Illegal rare earth mining has surged in northern Kachin State on the Chinese border following Myanmar’s Feb. 1 coup in areas controlled by a junta-sponsored militia.
Environmental groups say mining has increased at least five times in Pangwa and Chipwi townships amid Myanmar’s political turmoil, with a rapid influx of Chinese workers.
“Before the coup, we only saw one or two trucks per day. Now there is no proper inspection we are seeing 10 to 15,” an activist in Chipwi told The Irrawaddy.
He said the trucks are loaded with ammonium sulphate fertilizer bags filled at illegal mines.
“The Chinese authorities have tightened border security for imports from Myanmar due to COVID-19. But materials for the mining move across the border easily,” he added.