The presence of rubies, jade and other precious gems has been noted for centuries by locals, early Western explorers and colonial powers. Myanmar has an abundance of gold, silver, platinum, tin, tungsten, zinc, copper and gemstones. Yet very little of this has been exploited. One challenge to exploration and production is information. Only about half of the country has been mapped, pre-independence surveys are incomplete, and much was lost during the Cold War. Bureaucracy remains a hurdle for foreign investors. After years of working mostly with other governments directly, the Ministry of Mines lacks certain administrative capabilities and expertise. In 2014 Myanmar hopes to build trust internationally by joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a process that shows accountability and transparency in the mining and hydrocarbons sectors. Given the huge demand for Myanmar minerals and the positive bearing of the government, it is expected that sizeable new exploration and production projects will get underway in the next few years.
This chapter contains an interview with Dr Myint Aung, Minister of Mines.