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Protesters again face down police at Letpadaung

Protesters face a police cordon on the Pathein-Monywa Road in Salingyi Township,Sagaing Division, on Monday.

Protesters confronted police along the Pathein-Monywa Road near the controversial Letpadaung copper mine in Salingyi Township on Monday, in the latest dust-up over the Chinese-backed project in southern Sagaing Division.

More than 100 locals from five villages in the area gathered to decry the operations at Letpadaung, such as heavy-duty blast mining, and to flag environmentally damaging practices like allowing run-off of water with high concentrations of acid near the Shwe Hlay Bridge. The protesters also demanded compensation for crop losses and confiscated lands, a familiar refrain that disgruntled local residents have voiced repeatedly since large-scale displacement of local populations began in 2011 to make way for the Letpadaung project.

Security forces on Monday blocked the Pathein-Monywa Road — which leads past the Letpadaung mine and the offices of its operator, Myanmar Wanbao Mining Copper Limited — with both cordons of police officers and physical barricades. The protesters requested a meeting with representatives of the mining company to discuss their grievances but did not receive a response on Monday. The local residents said they were determined to wait until they are able meet with company representatives.

Myanmar Wanbao Mining Copper Limited is the local subsidiary of Beijing-based Wanbao Mining Limited. Wanbao’s Letpadaung project is a joint-venture with the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL) conglomerate.