In recent years, tin production from the Self-Administered Division allocated to the Wa ethnic people in Myanmar has increased significantly to become an important part of the world's tin supply. Various media reports have highlighted potential impacts of US narcotic trafficking sanctions on the tin trade from this region, and other stakeholders have queries regarding the conflict status of the minerals produced. In the highly complex situation that exists in Myanmar, including around the various ethnic armed groups and the ongoing peace process, gathering and evaluation of information takes some time. ITRI continues to develop knowledge on this mining area as follows.
The government of Myanmar recognises a Self-administered Division for the Wa ethnic people which borders, and has close ties with, the Yunnan Province of China. A major tin mine (Man Maw) is within the recognised Self-administered Division and this produced around 50,000 tonnes of tin in 2016. This tin is generally smelted in China.
Tin is also mined in the Tanintharyi Region of southern Myanmar which is under sole control of the national government of Myanmar. This area produced around 2,000 tonnes of tin in 2016 which is generally not smelted in China but elsewhere.
The Wa Self-administered Division is governed by the United Wa State Party (UWSP), which is supported by the United Wa State Army (UWSA) through an authority structure similar to that in China.
The UWSA does not seek a sovereign state independent from Myanmar, and both agreed a ceasefire in 1989, which was renewed in 2011. The UWSA and the central government have not been in direct conflict in recent times and have held regular talks, including around the current 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference.
ITRI has actively shared information on tin mining areas in Myanmar, including the Wa Division, with our members, the public and important stakeholders since the region became an important source of tin around five years ago. ITRI members are all Conflict Free Smelter Program (CFSP) compliant, with Myanmar sources reported to the supply chain as part of the CFSP audit process.
US sanctions arising from US domestic drug trafficking controls connected to the UWSP, UWSA and various related individuals have been in place for many years, although these have only recently been raised in the media. It has also been separately reported that Wa have taken positive steps to replace heroin poppy fields with new types of income from agriculture (rubber and tea), as well as mining.
ITRI fully supports the international multi-stakeholder agreed approach of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas (DDG) designed to promote progressive improvement in circumstances of mining. The DDG makes recommendations for mitigating any illegal involvement of either state, or non-state, armed groups in mining, and explains that non-state armed groups can be identified by reference to UN Security Council Resolutions. In this case, there do not appear to be any UN resolutions referring to the UWSA. The US State Department country report for Myanmar (Burma) does not name UWSA but refers to 'ethnic armed groups' in direct conflict with the government which does not appear applicable to UWSA.
Notwithstanding uncertainty over interpretation of the DDG, ITRI recommends its use to all ITRI members and has active projects working to practically implement recommendations for utilising this approach to ensure responsible tin supply. An important step in due diligence for high risk areas is to obtain sufficient information to make appropriate follow up decisions, and ITRI is continuing to work with members to learn more about tin mining in Wa. We aim to achieve a good understanding of local risk scenarios through local consultation in order to avoid negative impacts of potential disengagement and embargo from sudden actions that may turn out to be inappropriate and harmful.
An important statement from Yunnan Tin Company (YTC) regarding tin sourcing from Wa can be found here http://www.ytl.com.cn/info/1003/4703.htm
. The statement notes that YTC, together with ITRI, are already actively working in alignment with the recommendations of the DDG to understand and implement improvements in practices relating to sourcing from Wa as necessary.
We look forward to further discussions with engaged stakeholders in the coming months in order to obtain greater clarity on the points above, and to contribute to positive and practical solutions to address any identified risks related to the mineral trade and conflict and/or serious human rights abuses if these risks are verified to exist.
ITRI always welcomes information and discussions on any concerns regarding issues in the tin mineral trade and feedback or questions can be addressed to Kay Nimmo, Manager of Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org
ITRI欢迎关于任何与锡矿贸易相关的讨论与信息，问题和反馈请致邮ITRI可持续发展与法规部经理 Kay Nimmo女士kay.email@example.com