Australian miners seek a wealth of opportunities in a new Myanmar

Australian exploration and mining firms are readying themselves for forays into Myanmar following the end of decades of military rule and the country’s opening up to foreign investment.

Junior mining exploration companies from Australia dominated the list of foreign firms seeking opportunities at the inaugural Myanmar Mining Summit held in Yangon this week.

The Summit attracted 300 participants from 25 countries in what is regarded as a key signal of Myanmar’s commitment to opening its mining sector to foreign investors following the lifting of sanctions by Western countries earlier this year.

The absence of mining giants such as Rio Tinto at the summit was a talking point for participants, with analysts observing that the lack of multinational activity in Myanmar’s underdeveloped resource sector provides ample opportunity for smaller players.

According to Stephen Everett speaking to Queensland’s Courier Mail, small Australian mining companies are especially well-placed for entry into the Myanmar market, due to their willingness to operate in remote areas and strong reputation with respect to environmental and social responsibility.

Everett, chairman of Brisbane-based exploration company Global Resources Corp., was in Yangon to size up opportunities for Australian investors.

After decades of harsh military rule Myanmar’s political climate underwent a major sea change earlier this year with the election of long-time dissident Aung San Suu Kyi to the country’s legislature in April, and the military regime’s ceding of power to a nominally civilian government.

Observers are hopeful that Suu Kyi’s election portends further and more substantial liberalization of the country, which is likely to bring favorable opportunities for foreign investors.

Myanmar harbors a bounty of mineral resources including gold, lead, zinc, silver and copper, yet its mining sector remains largely underdeveloped due to decades of ineffective rule by the country’s military junta.

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