Resources to Myanmar
Trends and opportunities
The resources sector is an important pillar of the Myanmar economy and while significant investment is already occurring in the oil and gas sector, mining investment is also expected to grow in the coming years. The development of Myanmar’s resources will create opportunities for Australian companies, both as potential investors in mining, oil and gas projects,and as suppliers of related goods, services and technology.
The mining sector in Myanmar consists of two subsectors: minerals and jade/gemstones. Each sector has its own laws and challenges. Myanmar is known as the world’s largest ruby and jade producer. With sanctions lifted by the US in 2016 on the jade and rubies trade, Myanmar has seen a huge boost to the sector as demand from international gem dealers grows.
The country has extensive mineral resources that are attracting considerable interest from international mining companies. According to the Department of Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration (DGSE), there are more than 2,000 occurrences of 62 different commodities. These include precious stones and minerals such as gold, zinc, tin and copper.
The Mawchi tin mine and Bawdwin lead-zinc-silver mine in Myanmar, which were both well developed in the early 1990s, are known as some of the largest mines in the world. On February 2017, the Myanmar Times reported that the Letpadaung Copper Project, a joint venture between the Wanbao Mining Company from China, Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and the Myanmar Government, is expected to generate about US$20 million in its first 10 months for the state, (Source: U Ohn Win, Union Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation).
Regulatory reform towards compliance with international standards to support environmentally and socially sustainable development of its natural resources is also shaping Myanmar’s investment environment. On 24 December 2015, the amended Myanmar mining legislation was signed and the country released their first report for the Extractives Industries Transparency International (EITI) process on 18 March 2016. Opportunities are expected for Australian mining and mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector companies to participate in the development of this sector once the legislative reform process is complete.
The oil and gas sector is already a significant source of foreign investment and revenue for the government, particularly through offshore production in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Natural gas from these projects is exported via pipeline to Thailand and China and is also used to generate electricity for domestic consumption. The production of natural gas has been strong as according to the US Energy Information Administration, it went from 450 billion cubic feet in 2012 to 692 billion cubic feet in 2015, due in part to the Zawtika gas project coming on-line in 2014.
As of early 2016, Myanmar had 17 onshore oil and gas fields and four offshore gas fields. Myanmar uses a production-sharing contract (PSC) method which guides investments in the sector and follows the Indonesian model. The contracts include relinquishment, cost recovery, work commitments, royalties, oil profit, and equity stakes for the government (Source: Oxford Business Group The Report 2017, 10 March 2017). As these blocks are developed, opportunities will emerge for Australian suppliers of equipment, technology and services, particularly for offshore projects.
In 2013, a number of major international firms received their licenses which were formally contracted with the Ministry of Electrical Power and Energy in 2015.
Opportunities exist for Australian companies in the following areas:
- technology and equipment for the oil and gas sector (onshore, shallow water and deep water)
- LNG infrastructure development
- mineral exploration and processing – greenfield and brownfield projects:
- gold, silver, copper, tin, tungsten, antimony, coal, iron ore etc.
- industrial minerals – limestone, decorative stone, barite etc.
- mining technology and equipment
- VET training
- environmental and related technology and services.
Local companies are active in the mining sector, but often lack access to modern technology and practices. Mining is still predominantly small scale, labour intensive and lacking in basic environmental and safety measures. Foreign investment in the mining sector is very limited, but this is expected to change once the rules and regulations from the amended mining law are implemented.
The oil and gas sector is more advanced with a number of existing international producers including:
- Total – France
- PTTEP – Thailand
- Petronas – Malaysia
- Daewoo – Korea
Low cost products are available in Myanmar, but their quality and reliability can vary. Some major international equipment suppliers and contractors are establishing a presence. Demand is expected to increase for higher tech, higher quality products that offer greater reliability and comply with international standards.
Tariffs, regulations and customs
Myanmar is a member of the ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA). Reflecting its lower level of economic development, Myanmar’s commitments to reduce tariffs under AANZFTA are being phased in at a slower rate than other parties to the agreement. Tariffs on most items started to be reduced from 2015 and will continue through to 2020 and beyond. Find out more about tariffs at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Free Trade Agreement Portal.
Myanmar became a candidate country to the EITI in 2013 and published its first EITI report in January 2016. Further efforts are needed for Myanmar to be approved as an EITI compliant country. In the context of ongoing social, political and economic reforms led by the H.E President U Htin Kyaw and H.E Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the EITI process promises to serve as a supplementary policy tool for supporting the government and society in realising a good governance framework for the extractive industries. The support of the international community and development partners has been critical to Myanmar’s involvement in the EITI to date, and will remain so in the future as the country moves forward with the timely production of reports necessary for its validation.
Marketing your products and services
For suppliers of technology and equipment, local agents or distributors with specialist industry knowledge and established networks are generally the preferred way to build market contacts. As well as navigate regulatory and procurement processes, and identify emerging opportunities.
There are a number of trade exhibitions specific to the oil and gas and mining sectors in Myanmar each year. These can be a useful way for Australian exporters to raise awareness of their product offerings. These include:
Construction, Power and Mining Myanmar
Myanmar Upstream Oil and Gas Summit and Exhibition
Myanmar Oil and Gas Summit
Myanmar Oil and Gas Exhibition
Oil and Gas Myanmar
Austrade Yangon is able to provide additional information on specific resource sectors and can help to identify potential local partners for interested Australian companies.
Most imported products arrive in Myanmar by sea through Yangon port, Myanmar’s busiest port. Road transport overland from neighbouring countries, particularly China and Thailand, is possible but the road systems are generally poor and road freight rates can be very high.
Myanmar has three main international airports: Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. A new international airport in Hanthawaddy, about 80 kilometres northeast of Yangon, is in the early stages of planning. Myanmar now has direct air connections with most countries in East Asia, with most of connections via Yangon.
Links and industry contacts
Australia-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce
Department of Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration
Department of Mines
Directorate of Investment and Company Administration
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation
Myanmar Engineering Society
Myanmar Geosciences Society
Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry
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