British firm applies to search for minerals in Burmese jade areas


The British mining firm Aurasian Minerals Plc (AuM) announced in an update to shareholders in January that this past December it had delivered "three applications for mineral exploration licenses to the Myanmar Mining Authorities." Though the firm did not say where in Burma these applications were made it did reveal that the applications were made in areas that according to the company there exists "jade and gem mining concessions".  

The only known commercially viable jade deposits in Burma are located in Kachin state in Hpakant, an area that has seen repeated clashes between the government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) since a 17 year ceasefire collapsed in June 2011.

In January's Progress Update the firm noted that that its exploration applications for gold, copper and silver were “pending” with Burmese authorities "due to the current security situation in the relevant areas."  According to Aurasian "when the areas have been given security clearance the authorities have indicated that they will then process the AuM applications after excising".

Although the firm, which was previously called Triple Plate Junction, did not specify what the "security situation" actually entails this appears to be a reference to the ongoing conflict between ethnic armed groups and the central government which continues in several parts of the country including in Kachin state.  Likewise the firm's statement did not elaborate on what needs to happen in the areas in question before authorities can give "security clearance".

Though the firm is relatively small, 22.36% of Aurasian’s shares are owned by the giant US mining firm Newmont Mining Corporation, the world's second largest gold miner. According to Aurasian, the firm entered into an agreement last year with a subsidiary of Newmont that allows for Aurasian to gain access to "Newmont’s proprietary database covering various exploration activities in Myanmar, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia".

Newmont was previously involved in Burma in the 1990's before pulling out in 1997 after spending some $40 Million to develop gold deposits in Kyaukpahto in northern Sagaing division.