|January 11, 2012|
Myanmar Halts Construction of 4-GW Coal Plant on Environmental Worries
|Myanmar's government on Monday cancelled construction of a 4,000-MW coal-fired power plant proposed by Thai company Italian-Thai Development on public concerns about the plant's environmental impact. |
The coal plant was expected to power a planned 97-square-mile Dawei Special Economic Zone---a $50 billion project that has been touted as "Southeast Asia's largest industrial area." Dawei will include a deep-sea port, an oil refinery, and a petrochemical factory developed in three phases, between 2010 and 2019, reported Reuters.
But the decision to halt the project was made after "reading the concerns about the environmental impact of this plant in local media reports," energy ministry official Khin Maung Soe was widely quoted as saying.
The government will now decide whether to proceed with a smaller 400-MW project. Myanmar's Energy Ministry has suggested other sources of power would have to be found and that the country would "seriously think" about using coal in other plants, the Bangkok Post reported on Monday.
China, Thailand, and India are Myanmar's biggest foreign investors, pouring money into an assortment of projects to expand the country's infrastructure. Western companies' investments in the resource-rich country are limited, barred by sanctions imposed upon Myanmar for human rights abuses under the former military regime.
The move to cancel the massive coal plant follows Myanmar's suspension of the Myitsone Dam, which China had proposed to build at the confluence of the Mali and N'Mai Rivers at the source of the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar's Kachin State. Myanmar President Thein Sein said he suspended construction on the $3.6 billion hydropower project "to respect the will of the people."