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Acid Plant Database  December 12, 2017

Owner Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd.

Location Kan Kone Village
Sarlingyi Township
Yinmarpin District, Saging Division
Background -
Website -
Plant Moe Gyo Sulphuric Acid
Coordinates* 22° 7' 41" N, 95° 4' 30" E
Type of Plant Sulphur Burning
Gas Source Elemental Sulphur
Plant Capacity 50 MTPD
Emissions -
Status Operating
Year Built Construction: 2006
Operation: 2007
Technology -
Contractor -
Remarks -
Video YouTube: Acid Factory "Burning our Eyes," says residents
General -
References -
News December 12, 2017 - In order to resume operations at the ‘Thunder’ Sulphuric Acid factory in Sar Lin Gyi Township, the Union Government holds total responsibility.According to Sagaing Region’s municipality Minister Myint Kyi, the factory that had become defunct due to license expiration solely depends on the main government body, not regional.“There have been negotiations and requests from the people. It depends on the Union(government) whether to allow it. We(Sagaing government) has no problems if there’s no danger and harm to the environment. There’s a lot of groups the decision must go through to; environmental, health and more. A detailed investigation is necessary in order to ascertain certain claims regarding the factory,” said the minister.The factory, despite it being state owned, was operating without the permission of the industrial ministry as well as without certification of international standards.

August 17, 2017
- The Ministry of Defense has rejected a parliamentarian’s request to relocate a sulfuric acid factory in Sagaing Region’s Salingyi Township during the Lower House session on Wednesday.  Lawmaker U Win Thein Zaw of Salingyi Township raised a question about the military-owned factory operated under Myanma Economic Holdings Ltd (MEHL) near the village of Kan Kone in his constituency, citing locals’ concerns over their health and the environmental impact of the factory.  But Deputy Defense Minister Maj-Gen Myint Nwe defended the factory, saying that it does not harm locals, and that it serves the interests of the country.  The factory provides sulfuric acid used in refining copper to the China-backed Letpadaung copper mines.  He claimed that the factory does not cause social or environmental impacts and has even received three ISO certificates because it employs advanced production technologies.  The Letpadaung mines have been an ongoing source of controversy and protest, with accusations of forced eviction, environmental destruction and the suppression of peaceful protests.  The Letpadaung Copper Mines Investigation Commission led by then-lawmaker Daw Aung San Suu Kyi inspected the factory around 2013, and recommended that MEHL register the factory as a private factory, according to the deputy minister.  “During the registration process, we sought approval from the Ministry of Industry annually to run the factory,” said Maj-Gen Myint Nwe.  Lawmaker U Win Thein Zaw said that the factory started operation on August 19, 2007 and operated illegally until the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-led investigation commission inspected it in 2013. It then received permission for continued operation on a trial basis.  He called for the relocation of the factory away from residential areas, citing international practices that call for a buffer zone between residential areas and a facility manufacturing hazardous chemicals.  He said the factory is not in line with 2008 Constitution, citing Article 45 which states that the Union shall protect and conserve the natural environment, Article 390 that states that every citizen has the responsibility to conserve the environment, and Article 41 of the Myanmar Investment Law, which bans investments that could potentially cause harm to the people, the environment and ecosystem.  His presentation showed pictures of damaged crops plantations that he claimed were harmed by emissions.  The deputy defense minister stated that the factory would not be relocated, saying that it strictly followed the guidelines of the Letpadaung Copper Mines Investigation Commission, with two percent of the net profits from the factory being used for regional development and 51 percent of the profits from the Letpadaung copper mines going to state funds.  He said the Canada-based Green Environmental, Health, Safety & Social Consultancy Co had conducted an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) in 2014, and MEHL submitted the EISA report to the Ministry of Resources and Environmental Conservation and implemented the ministry’s 42 recommendations.  The sulfuric acid factory is a joint venture between MEHL and China North Industries Corporation commonly known as Norinco, which is involved in a wide range of businesses including automobiles, machinery, optical-electronic products, oil field equipment, chemicals, light industrial products, explosives and blast materials, civil and military firearms and ammunition and hi-tech defense products.  The two partners signed the contract on July 25, 2005 and constructed the factory on May 15, 2006. The US$5 million factory came into operation on April 20, 2007, and has a production capacity of 50 tons of sulfuric acid per day, according to the Defense Ministry.

May 28, 2017
- Kangone villagers yesterday called on Sagaing Region's government to relocate the Thunder sulphuric acid factory from Salingyi Township, Sagaing Region. Villagers demanded the removal of the factory at a meeting with regional officials at the basic education middle school in Kangone.Myint Kyi, regional development minister, said: “Villagers phoned me as they could smell the acid factory. The factory should take responsibility. The union government should draft a plan to deal with this problem. We will review the reports compiled by the ministry, farmers and factory, and then forward them to the union government. The regional government has no authority to make a decision. We have tried to relocate the factory.”Villagers complain about health problems and the smell. Khin Paw, a villager, said: “I have a sore throat. The smell makes villagers vomit and cough as the factory is very close to our houses. We all want the removal of the acid factory.”Factory managers, three regional ministers and some villagers held a closed meeting.

November 17, 2016 - Villagers and civil society are divided over what to do with community development funds from a controversial sulphuric acid factory operator, amid ongoing concerns about the potential health risks posed by the facility.  The Moe Gyo Sulphuric Acid Factory, run by military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, continues to operate after having its licence renewed for the 2016-17 period in October.  The renewal came amid ongoing opposition from Kan Kone village, in Sagaing Region’s Salingyi township, as well as strongly worded statements from the UK-based lobby group Amnesty International. They say the facility breaches international norms and poses severe environmental risks as well as being detrimental to the health of the area’s residents.  Moe Gyo Sulphuric Acid Factory was built in 2007 to serve two copper mining sites – at Letpadaung, and the Sabetaung and Kyisintaung mine. UMEHL operates these in partnership with Chinese subsidiary Myanmar Wanbao Mining Copper Limited.  “The factory has tried to give corporate social responsibility [CSR] funds of K18 million [US$14,000] for the fiscal year 2015-16, and K40 million for 2016-17 to support social and community development,” regional MP U Thein Naing (NLD; Salingyi 1) told The Myanmar Times.  He said many are hesitant to take the assistance, lest it signal their acceptance of the factory’s presence in the community. U Thein Naing said he has sought to dissuade people from this way of thinking.  “I told them it doesn’t mean [accepting the facility]. If the factory really does pose an environmental threat, the government would stop it,” he said.  He added that health surveying was carried out on villagers as recently as last week, but he conceded that the village lacks a meaningful way to monitor air pollution levels.  “If the air pollution is more than 20 parts per million [ppm], we can say that there is air pollution. We don’t have any equipment to test the Kan Kone village air situation. In the compound of the factory, there is a tester showing 16ppm, which assumes this has little threat for the village. We should make sure of it,” he said.  One Kan Kone villager told The Myanmar Times on condition of anonymity that he and other locals feel as though they have been placed in an awkward position. He says they see few options available to them to protest the factory’s operation, with representatives having told them talks between the facility’s operators and government are a done deal.  “As you know, we were always against the factory and always asking that the factory close. If we still continue to push for the factory to be closed, that means we are against the government,” the villager said.  “The regional government should have come to us first. Now they come to negotiate on accepting the funds. Do we need to go on the road to protest again? We have no idea,” he said.  Sagaing Region Development Minister U Myint Kyi told The Myanmar Timesthat if villagers reject the CSR funding, development will be stalled.  “We tried to negotiate between the locals and the companies. Every year Wanbao and Yang Tse gave $500,000 to 31 villages,” he said, the latter referring to Myanmar Yang Tse Copper Limited, the name of the Wanbao-backed venture operating the Sabetaung and Kyisintaung mine.  “We allocate the funds depending on the land used and the number of villagers. Last year, there were four villages refusing to take the CSR funds.”  He said this year, the majority of villagers have taken up the offer.  U Thein Naing said there should be a review of CSR policy, as money left over each year is currently not put back into a fund – even if that is due to the villagers rejecting the offer.  “Yang Tse gave K60 million for 2015-16 for the affected area, but the village didn’t take it. So the fund can’t be used for this year,” he said.  The controversial copper projects’ problems are seemingly improved through negotiations, U Thein Naing said. But, he conceded, there still need to be negotiations between locals and the companies for land compensation.  “The villagers ask for land compensation from Yang Tse for the Sabetaung and Kyisintaung mine. They want to get the compensation like Letpadaung,” he said.


July 19, 2016 - The Myanmar government must immediately order the relocation of a sulfuric acid factory built dangerously close to a village, which is continuing to operate despite grave concerns over its health and environmental impact, said Amnesty International today.Residents of Kankone village told Amnesty International on a recent research mission to Myanmar that they are suffering from strong-smelling factory emissions that are causing respiratory, skin and eye problems.The emissions, the residents said, have also damaged crops in the area. Soil samples examined by a government department and an environmental NGO in 2013 revealed high levels of sulfates in the soil. The test results, while limited, are a cause for serious concern about the factory and its impacts.“Myanmar’s government must intervene immediately and stop the operations of the sulfuric acid factory. The factory must be relocated to an area where it can’t endanger anybody’s health,” said Amnesty International Business and Human Rights researcher Mark Dummett, who visited Kankone village in the country’s northwest Sagaing Region last month. The Moe Gyo Sulfuric Acid Factory, built in 2007, was the subject of an investigation committee led by Aung San Suu Kyi in 2013. The committee found that the company that runs the factory had built it without securing permission from local authorities.The company, Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL), which is owned by the Myanmar military, subsequently obtained permission to operate the factory in July 2013.It is a criminal offence in Myanmar to operate a factory without permission but the government failed to open an investigation into this matter, and imposed no sanction on the owners of UMEHL for illegally operating the factory from 2007 to 2013.Last month, the newly elected municipal authorities decided not to renew the factory’s annual license to operate pending an assessment of its health and environmental impacts, officials said. According to residents, the factory did not function for more than one month, however it has since resumed its operations without renewing its license to operate. A local official said that despite the lack of a license from the municipal authorities, a central government body is still allowing the factory to run.“UMEHL shouldn’t ignore the concerns of the local authorities and must listen to the very serious complaints of the affected population. The central government now needs to stop the operations of this factory and move it to a safe location,” Dummett said.Villagers reported that following the resumption of operations on June 15, the air became so polluted that most students stopped attending school, which sits just 50 meters from the factory.Amnesty International has been monitoring the situation closely, recording longstanding complaints from residents.“Every time we smell the acid it is really bad. We tell the factory to stop it, but they say that’s not possible” a male resident told Amnesty International in 2014.“People cannot stay in the village at those times. Our eyes tear up and we cough,” another man told Amnesty International on the same visit.  International best practice calls for a buffer zone between residential areas and a facility manufacturing hazardous chemicals to ensure human safety.Before any relocation of the factory, the government needs to ensure that its operator, UMEHL, conducts an adequate Environmental and Social Impact Assessment in consultation with affected people and discloses all safety measures to be taken prior to, during and after the move, Amnesty International said.  “The Myanmar government must also ensure that any negative impacts caused by the factory are fully assessed, disclosed and remediated,” Dummett said. “The authorities must also investigate potential breaches of the Factories Act by UMEHL from 2007 to 2013.”The Moe Gyo Sulfuric Acid Factory supplies sulfuric acid to two copper mines, the Letpadaung and Sabetaung and Kyisintaung (S&K) mines. These are joint ventures between UMEHL and China’s Wanbao Mining. The giant Letpadaung mine officially started producing copper for the first time in May 2016.



November 28, 2014 - Marking two years since Buddhist monks and activists were brutally attacked by riot police at the Latpadaung copper mine site, Amnesty International (AI) has issued a press release highlighting ongoing problems associated with the project.  Amnesty said the mine is likely to causes further human rights abuses and is calling for the project to be halted until a proper environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) is carried out.  AI’s director of global issues, Audrey Gaughran, said the ESIA commissioned by the local subsidiary of China’s Wanbao Mining Ltd has “critical gaps”, particularly relating to environmental issues.  “The construction of the Latpadaung mine must be halted immediately until a thorough environmental and social impact assessment has been carried out, which genuinely consults all the people affected,” she said.  AI said the initial ESIA ignores local concerns about the existing Sabetaung and Kyisintaung copper mines nearby, which are operated by other Wanbao subsidiaries, as well as the nearby Moe Gyo Sulphuric Acid Factory which supplies acid to the mine. The acid factory is owned by the Burmese military’s business entity, the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL).  “More than 25,000 people live in 26 villages in the 5km distance between the two mines, with the sulphuric acid factory also in close proximity. People who may be affected by pollution need more information on how cumulative risks from all three projects will be managed,” said Gaughran.  The AI statement also emphasised that the project is proceeding without resolving several important environmental and human rights concerns. In particular, nobody has been held accountable for the abuses committed by Burmese riot police officers who forcibly dispersed a peaceful protest against the Latpadaung copper mine—allegedly using, among other weapons, white phosphorous.  In addition, Amnesty said that thousands of farmers who refuse to leave their homes remain under threat of forced eviction because their lands were acquired for the mine in a flawed process characterised by misinformation.  According to the press statement, government authorities misled villagers by indicating that their compensation was being provided in respect to damage to their crops, but in reality the authorities intended to provide compensation as a pretext for acquiring their land.  On account of such misinformation and other issues, protests in the region continue regularly as hundreds of families resist forced evictions to make room for the mine, which is situated near Monywa in central Burma’s Sagaing Region.  Four villages made up of 441 households are supposed to be relocated for the project. Among these households, Amnesty says, 245 have been moved to resettlement sites, but the remaining 196 refuse to leave their homes. In addition, land from 26 other villages—most of which is farmland—has been acquired for the project.  AI’s Gaughran has called on Burmese authorities to engage in meaningful consultations with communities that have been affected by the project or will be in the future.  “The authorities should urgently set up a genuine consultation with the affected villages on the land acquisition and proposed evictions. They must guarantee that no one will be forcibly evicted,” she said.  As to the injuries sustained by 99 monks and nine other protesters during the crackdown on 29 November 2012, the Amnesty statement said many individuals suffered “extremely painful burns” and that “some have been left with lifelong injuries and scarring.”  In this regard, Gaughran said, “Two years after this brutal attack, it is completely unacceptable that the scores of people injured while protesting are still waiting for justice and reparations. White phosphorus munitions should never be used by the police – the use of such weapons against peaceful protesters is a flagrant violation of international law.  No police officer or official who was involved in the attack has been investigated, prosecuted or sanctioned, while the government has failed to provide victims with effective remedies and adequate reparation.”  AI issued the statement ahead of the two-year anniversary of the violent crackdown, and the NGO said it currently investigating past and current human rights issues relating to: the Latpadaung mine; the Sabetaung and Kyisintaung mines; and the Moe Gyo Sulphuric Acid Factory. Amnesty said it will present its findings in a report due to be released in early 2015.

The Latpadaung copper mine is a joint venture between UMEH and Wanbao Mining’s Burmese subsidiary. According to the project’s production sharing agreement, the joint venture partners will retain 49 percent of the profits, while the remaining 51 percent will be given to the Burmese government.  A commission led by Aung San Suu Kyi to investigate the impact of the mine as well as the crackdown recommended that an environmental and social impact assessment be carried out. The resulting ESIA stated that members of the four communities to be relocated are “potentially highly impacted” and acknowledges the process could “threaten their ability to survive”.  Key to the ESIA proposed mitigation plan is the market-value compensation for land lost to the project. This follows the previous earmarking of funds for regional development projects, which have had some success in the supply of electricity and potable water.  However, local residents have refused to accept compensation en masse, as continual protests calling for the complete abandonment of the mining project have been staged.  The website of Wanbao’s local subsidiary says: “Being responsible for shareholders, employees, clients and the society, Wanbao Mining adheres to the corporate culture of ‘human-orientation, collaboration and win-win; enterprising and innovation, pursuing excellence’ in order to make contribution for the construction of harmonious society.”  Although China’s current president, Xi Jinping, has championed the “Chinese Dream” slogan, the Latpadaung project was launched under China’s former president, Hu Jintao, whose catch phrase encouraged China to build a “harmonious society.”  The “history” section of the subsidiary’s website concludes by saying: “We should not forget that the core of sustainable development is human development and progress. By improving the quality of life, by using local and natural resources and by promoting a healthy environment, we will succeed in preserving the Earth’s life-support systems for present and future generations.”  In March 2014, an article published by Eleven Daily News said that another ESIA compiled by Knight Piésold Consulting found that “acid and metals generation arising from waste rock have posed extremely high environmental risk to surface and groundwater.”  Eleven Daily News also quoted an article written by scientist Nyo Hmainn Wai in the Myanmar Environmental & Economic Review which warned about the potential dangers posed by the Latpadaung project. In the article, Nyo Hmainn Wai said the area might become “an open pit with toxic water that could cause serious environmental damage if the acidic water produced by the copper mine flows into the Ayeyawady [Irrawaddy] River.”


August 5, 2014 - Residents in Sarlingyi Township recently protested the issuance of the international standard (ISO) certificate to Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, a producer of sulphuric acid.  At the August 3 protest, about 200 residents also targeted their protests at GIC Co, which issued the certificate.  A villager said that after the plant was built in 2006, villagers have suffered from air and water pollution. He said that GIC visited his village and asked questions, a routine part of the certification. Then, the certificate was issued despite villagers’ complaints.  “It is true that the company did not survey the opinions from all villagers. A villager asked me not to allow the opinion survey. But I couldn’t block it,” said village administrator Aung Than.  Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings is selected as a supplier of sulphuric acid to the Lepadaungtaung copper mine project.

August 19, 2013
- Around 500 residents protested against the Moe Kyoe Sulphuric Acid Factory on August 16, demanding that it relocate, since the factory is right next to the village. The factory owned by Myanmar Economic Holding was built at a distance of 200 yards from Kan Kone Village in Sarlingyi Township, Yinmarpin District, Sagaing Division.  “The crops die when smoke from the acid factory fall on them. I am also worried about school children’s health in the long run as the factory is also close to the High School in the village”, said U Aung Soe, one of the campaigners demanding the relocation of the acid factory.  There are also accusations from residents regarding health problems they have developed after the factory has started to operate. The acid factory is operated by the Myanmar Economic Holdings for purifying copper from the copper production projects in Sabei hill, Kyay Sin hill and Letpadaung hill.  The factory was built in 2006 and became operational in April 2007. It produces 50 tons of acid which is 98% of the total sulphuric acid required in the copper mine projects.  The Clause (47) from the report by Letpadaung Copper Project Investigation Commission led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi stated that the chimney of the factory is 131 feet high from the ground. Therefore, the sulfur dioxide (SO2) in the smoke that is emitted is controlled and reduced to not more than 150 pmm(per million). However, international experts have rated the factory dangerous due to that fact that it runs 24 hours a day.

MTPD - Metric Tonne per Day           STPD - Short Ton per Day
MTPA - Metric Tonne per Annum      STPA - Short Ton per Annum
SA - Single Absorption
DA - Double Absorption

* Coordinates can be used to locate plant on Google Earth