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Shwe Taung Cement Factory, Mandalay, Myanmar


Plans to expand a coal-fired cement plant in Tharzi district, Mandalay, have provoked opposition by villagers and civil society groups. The project entails not only the expansion of the cement factory, but also an adjunct limestone quarry and a coal mine in Kalewa, operated by the firm to exclusively supply the factory with raw materials [1]. The project is developed by the Shwe Taung Group (STG), whose majority shareholder Aik Htun is a controversial figure. He is believed to be linked to the former military regime, to narcotics trade and to money laundering, according to an open letter sent by a civil society coalition opposing the project [see 1]. Funding for the coal-fired cement factory comes from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private arm of the World Bank [2]. While the World Bank pledged not to finance coal-power plants for Myanmar’s national grid due to their devastating health, environmental and climate impacts [1], the Bank accepts – with surprise for civil society organizations - the use of coal power for Myanmar’s cement factories [1,3].

The company began operations in 2010 [3], close to Kyubin village, where multiple indigenous communities live. In an open letter [1], civil society organizations have reported that locals are concerned about the project’s impacts. Several disputes have emerged, caused for instance by the bulldozing of farmland without prior notice and inadequate compensation procedures. Juridical harassment against villagers who complain about their land and livelihood loss was also mentioned [1]. According to the letter, villagers reported that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) had serious shortcomings - some stated that a merely “5 minutes question and answer” session was held [1]. Health and environmental impacts from the expansion of the coal mine and the factory were expected to be high. They include pollution of lands and water bodies, deforestation, habitat destruction, livelihood loss and potential cultural impacts in the surrounding area [1]. Both the coal mine and the limestone quarry are in areas classified as a Critical Habitat in the IFCs’ Environmental and Social Review Summary, informs the letter [1]. After the factory’s expansion, villagers complained about skin diseases which they attribute to the dust from the cement factory [4]. The use of coal and the IFC’s support to the expansion plans have been major points of contention among civil society groups, who “emphasize the sheer irresponsibility of this investment and the multiple ways it undermines the IFC’s commitment to sustainable investment and ‘shared prosperity’ through private sector development” [1].

Land disputes in the area have been ongoing for decades, says a news article [4]. Already in 1983, land was seized by the government and in 2008 several private companies were given land to develop cement factories, taking advantage of the nearby limestone hills. In 2012, in the context of new political freedoms, activists started to campaign for the return of their land [1]. Complaint letters were sent and national civil society organizations such as MATA (Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability) got involved. Attempts to settle the disputes between the company and the villagers followed and several public meetings were organized. Controversies, however, remained [4].

On June 7, 2017, a coalition of 174 civil society organizations sent an open letter to the IFC, urging the Board to reject funding for this project [1]. The letter expressed concerns over the extraction and burning of large amounts of coal through the controversial Shwe Taung Cement Factory: “The IFC Board should refuse funding for an environmentally destructive coal-reliant project in a critical biodiversity area, which has caused immense social problems at the local level, and only serves to enrich a businessman with known ties to the former military regime and suspected connections to the narcotics trade. The IFC's reputation, and the people of Myanmar, deserve better.” [1]

In a response, the IFC backed the project and the EIA consultations, arguing the project would help to meet the growing demand for raw materials for construction and, moreover,  provide 200 jobs [3]. On July 31, 2017 the project received green light by the IFC, although the US representative and executive director voted against it because of environmental concerns, such as impacts on endangered species and lack of emission data [4]. IFC Investment began on January 4, 2018 [2]. 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Shwe Taung Cement Factory, Mandalay, Myanmar
State or province:Mandalay
Location of conflict:Tharzi district
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Thermal power plants
Manufacturing activities
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The Shwe Taung Group (STG) expanded into the cement business in 2010 by setting up the Shwe Taung Cement Co Ltd (STC) to meet the growing demand for concrete and cement in Myanmar. Limestone and coal is provided to the factory through its wholly owned subsidiary, Shwe Taung Mining (STM), which holds relevant mining concessions [5].

According to the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) from April 2017, the cement factory expansion requires the extraction of 150,000 tons of sub-bituminous coal per year. This entails the expansion of a 3,378 acre (ca. 1,367 ha) coal mine in Kalewa (Sagaing Division) [1].

The project further entails the expansion of a limestone quarry in Tharzi, Mandalay. According to the open letter sent by the CSO coalition, locals have reported that the quarry, which uses drill and blast extraction methods, has negative impacts on biodiverse forests as well as on local water sources [1].

About 600 households live in two nearby villages [1]. In 2017, only six locals were reported to be employed by the company for low-skilled and low paid jobs [1].

According to the IFC, the expansion of the cement factory has a total cost of 110 million USD. The IFC decided to invest 15 million USD in equity stakes and to provide a loan of 20 million USD [2].

The expansion would increase the cement grinding capacity to from 2,800 to 7,200 tonnes a day and the clinker production capacity from 1,500 to 5,500 tonnes a day [2,4]. The company distributes cement all over Myanmar under the brand name “Apache Portland Cement" [2,6].

The Shwe Taung Cement Company (STC) is part of the Shwe Taung Group (STG) [5].

Project area:unknown
Level of Investment:110,000,000 USD
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:600 households
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:Shwe Taung Corporation from Myanmar
Shwe Taung Cement Co Ltd (STC) (STC) from Myanmar - cement factory company
Shwe Taung Mining (STM) (STM) from Myanmar - supplies coal and limestone to the factory
International and Finance Institutions International Finance Corporation (of World Bank) (IFC) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Organisations that signed the open letter to the IFC, urging the IFC Board to reject funding for this project:
Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (national office)
EarthRights International (ERI)
Bank Information Center
Paung Ku Myanmar
Ayeayarwaddy West Development Organization, AWDO. (Magway region)
Satodetayar Development Organization, SDO.
Yoema Chin (Satodetayar)
Ayeayarwaddy West Development Organization – AWDO, farmer group. (Ngaphe)
Independence Asho Chin Nation Force.
Pwintphyu Development Organization
Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability – MATA (Magway)
Myanmar China Pipeline Watch Committee – MCPWC (Minbu)
Ayeayarwaddy West Development Organization – AWDO, farmer group (Minbu)
Thuriya Sandra Environmental Watch Group
ေရႊျခံေျမကြန္ရက္ ကြမ္းျခံကုန္းၿမိဳ႕
စိမ္းလန္း ျပင္ဦးလြင္
Community Response Group – COMREG
Tarkapaw Youth Group
Kachin Peace Network
Peace & Open Society Kyaukse
Myanmar-China Pipeline Watch Committee – MCPWC
Myanmar Alliance for Transparency & Accountability (Mandalay)
Farmer Union Kyaukse
ပိြဳင့္- ရိုးရာ၀န္းက်င္ ျမွင့္တင္ေရးအဖြဲ႕ (POINT-Promotion of Indigenous and Nature Together)
Karen Environment and Social Action Network – KESAN
Upper Chindwin Youth Network – UCYN
Ayeyarwaddy Transparency and Accountability Association (ATAA)
Dawei Development Association – DDA
IFI Watch Myanmar
IFI Watch Kyunsu
Green Network Mergui Archipelago
The Mergui 88 Generation Open Peace and Open Society
ေတာင္သူလယ္သမားမ်ားႏွင္႔လယ္ယာလုပ္သားမ်ားသမဂၢ (ၿမိတ္ခရိုင္)
IFI Watch Pakokku
Sein Yanung So
Natural Green Alliance
Transparency and Accountability Network Kachin State (TANKS)
Humanity Institute
Our future initiative (OFI)
Southern Youth
ၿမိတ္ၿမိဳ႕နယ္ေတာင္သူလယ္သမား သမဂၢ
Tanintharyi Fisheries Partnership
Tanintharyi Green Network
သယံဇာတေစာင့္ၾကည့္ေရးအဖြဲ႕ (တနသၤာရီ)
သယံဇာတေစာင့္ၾကည့္ေရးအဖြဲ႕ (ပေလာက္)
၈၈ မ်ိဳးဆက္ (ပုေလာ)
၈၈ မ်ိဳးဆက္ (ၿမိတ္)
အမ်ိဳးသမီးမ်ား သမဂၢ (ၿမိတ္)
NNER – Myeik
ABSDF ရဲေဘာ္ေဟာင္းအဖြဲ႕
ဆရာမ်ားသမဂၢ (ၿမိတ္ခရိုင္)
သိေႏၶာ သယံဇာတ ေစာင့္ၾကည့္ေရးအဖြဲ႕ (တနသၤာရီ)
၈၈ မ်ိဳးဆက္ (ေကာ့ေသာင္း)
Our Future Imitative (ဘုတ္ျပင္း)
Tanintharyi Fisheries Partnership (ေကာ႔ေသာင္း)
Dawei Watch Fundation
ကလုံးထာ ဖြံ႕ၿဖိဳးတိုးတက္ေရး ေကာ္မတီ
Community Sustainable Livelihood Development Committee
သတၱဳတြင္းေစာင့္ၾကည့္ေရးအဖြဲ႕ Min Monitors Group
Dawei Youth Fellowship
တနသၤာရီမိတ္ေဆြမ်ားအဖြဲ႕ Thanintheri Friends
Green Generation
အမ်ိဳးသမီးမ်ား သမဂၢ (ထားဝယ္)
Dawei Pro-bono Lawyers Network
Karen Affair Committee
အေျခခံဥပေဒျပင္ဆင္ေရး ျပည္သူကြန္ရက္
စာေရးဆရာအသင္း- ဘားအံ
Twee Community Development Network
Karen Human Right Group
Free And Justice
Khu Mee Lit: Cult:Association
Khu Mee Women Organization
Mon Land Development and Natural Resources Conservation Organization
Chin Civil Society Network
Kanpatlet Environment Conversation Organization
Kanpatlet Land Development Organization
Matupi Community Development Organization
Chin Youth Organization
Chinland Natural Resource Watch Group
Beauty of Mt. Chin
ZCD + ZDA – Zomie Congress for Democracy + Zomie Dress Agency
Horn Bill Organization
Small Scale Industries Development
Chin Green Network
Falam Mino Paulkom
Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG)
Women League of Burma WLB
K’Cho Land Development Association ခ်ိဳးေျမဖံ႕ြ ျဖိဳးတိုးတက္ေရးအသင္း
Open Development Foundation
Chin Women Development Organization
Yae Kyee Sann
Youth Development Network
Lut Lat Pwint Lin Social Association
Myat Won Thit
Myint Ma Kha Guard
Public Network
EDU Wave
Kyauk Gyi Development
East Light Development Group
Myanmar Youth Star
Bago Youth Network
Green Equations
ကရင္နီျပည္ လူငယ္မ်ား သမဂၢ
ကရင္နီ အမ်ိဳးသားလူငယ္အစည္းအရံုး
ကယန္း မ်ိဳးဆက္သစ္ လူငယ္
ကရင္နီျပည္ ေတာင္သူ လယ္သမားမ်ား သမဂၢ
ထာဝစဥ္ စိမ္းလန္းစိုေျပ ကရင္နီျပည္
Kayah EarthRights Action Network
အထက္ခ်င္းတြင္း လူငယ္ကြန္ရက္
နိစၥဓူ၀ ပညာေရး
အင္းသာ ေကာ္မတီအဖြဲ႕
ေတာင္ကုန္းေဒသ ေစာင့္ၾကည္႔ေရး
ႏုိင္ငံသားႏွင့္ ႏုိင္ငံသားအခြင့္အေရးလႈပ္ရွား ေဆာင္ရြက္ေရးအဖြဲ႔
တေအာင္း ေက်ာင္းသားလူငယ္အစည္းအရံုး
ရွမ္းစာေပႏွင့္ ယဥ္ေက်းမႈ အသင္းအဖြဲ႕
၈၈ ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးႏွင့္ပြင့္လင္းလူအဖြဲ႕အစည္း
တရားမွ်တမႈ ေစာင့္ၾကည္႔ေရးအဖြဲ႕
ရွမ္းစာေပႏွင့္ ယဥ္ေက်းမႈ အသင္းအဖြဲ႕
သိန္းနီ သဘာ၀ပတ္၀န္းက်င္ထိန္းသိမ္းေရး အဖြဲ႕
ကြတ္ခိုင္ သဘာ၀ပတ္၀န္းက်င္ထိန္းသိမ္းေရးအဖြဲ႕
ရွမ္းစာေပႏွင့္ ယဥ္ေက်းမႈ အသင္းအဖြဲ႕(ရွမ္းေျမာက္လူငယ္အဖြဲ႕)
တေအာင္း ေက်ာင္းသားလူငယ္အစည္းအရံုး
အင္းစိမ္းေျမ သဘာ၀စိမ္းလန္းစိုေျပေရး
တေအာင္း(ပေလာင္)စ/ယ ေကာ္မတီ
တေအာင္းအမ်ိဳးသမီးမ်ား အဖြဲ႕အစည္း
၈၈မ်ိဳးဆက္သစ္ ျငိမ္း/ပြင့္ (ရွမ္း/ေျမာက္)
၈၈မ်ိဳးဆက္သစ္ ျငိမ္း/ပြင့္ (ရွမ္း/ေရွ႕)
လီဆူစာေပႏွင့္ ရိုးရာယဥ္ေက်းမႈဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးေရးအသင္း
မ်ိဳးဆက္သစ္ သထံုေလး
ေတာင္သူလယ္သမားမ်ားႏွင့္ ေျမယာလုပ္သားမ်ား သမဂၢ

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Noise pollution
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsExposure to dust from cement manufacturing
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The IFC financed the project despite concerns over environmental and social impacts voiced by a large coalition of civil society organisations.

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

2012 Foreign Investment Law

2016 Myanmar Investment Law

2015 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedure
2015 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedure

2012 Environmental Conservation Law

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Open letter to the IFC regarding its proposed financing of a crony-owned cement factory and coal mine in Myanmar. 7 June 2017. Undersigned by 147 civil society organisations. (accessed online 12.09.2018).

[2] IFC Project Information Portal - STG Cement. (accessed online 12.09.2018).

[3] The Irrawaddy, 26 June 2017. "World Bank Arm Defends Mandalay Cement Factory Project Amid Civil Society Opposition". (accessed online 12.09.2018).

[4] Forntier Myanmar, "At a controversial cement plant project, waiting for the dust to settle". (accessed online 12.09.2018).

[5] Shwe Taung Cement Co. Ltd. website. (accessed online 12.09.2018).

[6] Apache Cement Website, Shwe Taung Cement Col Ltd. (accessed online 12.09.2018).

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

The company's promotional video

Other documents

Map Credit and Source: Frontier Myanmar.

Villager blames company for causing the skin aliment Credit and Source: Victoria Milko | Frontier.

Meta information

Contributor:EJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update17/09/2018




Credit and Source: Frontier Myanmar.

Villager blames company for causing the skin aliment

Credit and Source: Victoria Milko | Frontier.