CDSSEA 17: Accumulation by Dispossession and Local Livelihood Insecurity

Case Study of Ruby Mining in Mogok, Myanmar

Mogok is a city 200km north of Mandalay in Myanmar. Famous for extracting ruby, a gemstone praised worldwide for its premium quality, most people in this region have been small-scale ruby miners for centuries.

Their livelihoods were secure until the Myanmar Gemstone Law (SLORC Law no. 8/95) was enacted in 1995. This enabled the military government to joint-venture with large-scale mining corporations, domestic and foreign investments were allowed, cronies empowered, and cease-fire agreements signed with ethnic armed groups who—as private partners of the state—were given mining claims. Government policies denied the right to access natural resources. Land was confiscated and the government took ownership of all existing mining claims. No longer was traditional mining allowed without a permit.

In this paper, the author, who spent several months in three Mogok villages, shares not only his observations and findings, but interviews with local residents. This research hopes to provide insight and a deeper understanding of the current state-controlled mining situation in Myanmar and the impact on livelihood and environment.

Publication date : August 2018