On 14 September 2021, Publish What You Pay Australia on behalf of 245 Myanmar-based civil society organisations submitted a complaint against Australian mine developer Myanmar Metals (MYL) to the Australian NCP. MYL holds a 51% interest in a joint venture to develop Bawdwin mine in northern Shan state, Myanmar. The complaint contends that MYL’s planned sale of its interest in late September 2021 to a Myanmar partner, Win Myint Mo Industries Co. Ltd (WMM), fails to meet the standards of responsible disengagement set out in the OECD Guidelines, in three key respects:
1. MYL has failed to conduct appropriate risk-based human rights due diligence in relation to the divestment, including by failing meaningfully to engage with stakeholders.
2. MYL has failed to seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that
may arise after the sale of its interest in the joint venture.
3. MYL has failed to be transparent in relation to its decision to disengage from the joint venture.
The Bawdwin mine presently consists of open pit and underground workings and associated processing infrastructure. The mine has not been operated since 2009. Complainants are concerned that MYL’s irresponsible divestment risks facilitating development of the mine, likely leading to a range of adverse impacts caused by WMM or other business partners, the Myanmar military, ethnic armed groups, or other third parties. WMM does not have a track record of responsible business conduct nor a public human rights policy, and is linked to supporters of the previous military junta. Complainants fear that development of the mine would lead to an increased military presence to secure the area from ethnic armed groups, driving further conflict in the region that particularly impacts women and girls, who have already experienced rape and sexual violence connected to resource extraction in conflict areas in Shan State. Complainants are also concerned about the forced displacement of local communities to clear the way for mine activities. Finally, complainants believe that if developed under the current regime in Myanmar, the Bawdwin mine would generate revenue for the military junta, thereby contributing to ongoing and severe human rights violations in the country.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter II
- Chapter II Paragraph A10
- Chapter II Paragraph A14
- Chapter III
- Chapter III Paragraph 1
- Chapter III Paragraph 2 f
- Chapter IV
- Chapter IV Paragraph 1
- Chapter IV Paragraph 2
- Chapter IV Paragraph 4
- Chapter IV Paragraph 5
In May 2022, the Australian NCP stated that an alternative examiner had been appointed to consult with the parties and gather information.