An evaluation of the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the existing operations and of the Kyisintaung expansion development project planning has been prepared to normal international standards, similar to those proposed by the World Bank and other multilateral lending agencies. In general, the environmental impacts have been minimized in the S&K Project designs.
Land use within the project area is not expected to change significantly. Much of the site is currently used for mining and the new lands that will be disturbed by the Kyisintaung expansion project are generally marginal grazing land. Only a small area currently used for dry land farming will be taken by the expansion operations. All of the land needed for the project has been acquired by ME I. and the farmers using this land were compensated by the government in the 1980's. In March of 2013, a reassessment of the land compensation was directed by the President's office and a group of special committees; Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with the investigation Committee, and ultimately the Implementation Committee formed by the President's directives were put in place to ascertain public acceptance and fair treatment of the progressing developments.
The Kyisintaung site has a semi-tropical climate. Average annual precipitation is 750 mm with much of the rain falling in the May to October monsoon season. Annual mean pan-evaporation is 1970 mm, which is two to three times the annual precipitation. This net evaporation is an important part of the overall water management program designed to eliminate the discharge of effluents that do not meet international quality standards. Air quality is good, with only localized emissions from the existing operations above international standards for particulates. The proposed project design is based on significantly higher levels of dust control than is currently used, and the overall result is expected to be an improvement in air quality.
Water management and hydrology are controlled by the Yama Stream and Chindwin River flood plains, which cover portions of the project's site. The close proximity of the rivers and the flat topography make storm water diversion and management challenging, as few areas are available for sediment control and evaporation ponds. Storm water will be diverted around disturbed areas wherever possible. Storm runoff from the waste dumps and open pits will be given minimal sediment control and discharged to the environment. Rapid runoff 1s expected, and this limited contact time is expected to minimize degradation to water quality. This is the major area of environmental risk. Monitoring of the storm water discharge will be essential during operations, and if metal concentrations are higher than international standards, alternative treatment options will then be considered. Construction of holding ponds and treatment facilities for storm water, while possible will require valuable land normally used for cultivation. Storm water runoff from the heap leach pad and process plant areas will be diverted to the process plant overflow basin and recycled as process make-up.
All of the mine dumps and open pits are expected to generate acid rock drainage (ARD) as the waste contains sulfides and has essentially no carbonate minerals to provide neutralization capacity. Seepage from the toe of the waste dumps and normal water inflows to the pits will be collected and pumped to the overflow basin for recycling. ARD drainage from the existing tailings will also be collected and pumped to the overflow basin for recycling. ARD drainage from the existing tailings will also be collected and recycled. With the exception of storm water runoff, the site will be managed on a zero discharge basis. Overall water quality is expected to improve as the current operation has numerous discharges of ARD containing copper, iron, and other metals, especially discharges made in conjunction with the secondary copper recovery.
A reclamation plan has been developed for implementation following the proposed 20 year operating period. Reclamation will be funded by a cash accrual during the operating period. An estimated $5 million will be accrued for reclamation. Reclamation will involve clay capping the waste dumps and heaps. Storm water runoff will be diverted from the dumps and heaps and ARD seepage from the toe of the dumps will be diverted into the Kyisintaung pit for evaporation. During operations, the Sabetaung pits will be backfilled with waste. ARD seepage from the heap will be diverted into the unused process pond system for evaporation. Plant facilities will be decommissioned.
Additional Socio-sustainable operations for the life after the projects on whole are being reviewed using new technology, international as well as local expertise, and are being updated on an annual basis utilizing the most current practices of success valued projects from around the world.
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