Burma

(Map) Burma

BURMA (RU: Бирма; Myanmar in Burmese language), the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Pyidaunzu Thanmăda Myăma Nainngandaw) is the country within the South-Eastern Asia. It borders India and Bangladesh to the west, China to the north-east, Laos to the east, Thailand to the south-east. At the south-west and south, its shores are washed by the waters of the Bay of Bengal, and of the Andaman Sea. The area is 678 thousand square kilometres. The population is 35.3 million persons (1980, estimate). The capital is the Yangon city. Burma comprises the Burma proper (7 provinces), and national districts. The official language is Burmese. The unit of currency is kyat (ja).

General characteristic of the economy. The GDP during the 1978 has amounted to 29.5 billion kyat (at the current prices), of which 46% have been accounted for the agriculture and forestry, 0.68% for the mining-extracting industry, 1% for the processing industry, 1.1% for the construction, 29% for the commerce and service, more than 20% for the transport and communications. There play the important role within the economy the governmental and cooperative sectors (41.3% of the GDP, 1979/80). The industry is developed very weakly (the share of the mining-extracting industry accounts for 6% of the value of the industrial production). Within the structure of the fuel-energetical balance, 50% are accounted for the petroleum, approximately 40% are accounted for the hydraulic energetical industry. The production of electricity is 1080 million kilowatt-hours (1979/80). The length of the railways is 4.4 thousand kilometres (the main road is the Yangon - Myitkyina highway), the length of the automotive roads is 23.1 thousand kilometres (1980). The main ports are: Yangon, Bassein, Mawlamyine, Sittwe.

Nature. There mostly occupy the territory of Burma the mountains, and there occupy 30% of the territory the lowlands with the height marks of up to 200 metres above the level of the sea. Within the limits of Burma, there distinguish themselves the Rakhine, or the Arakan Yoma, mountain system (the height is 1500-3000 metres) at the west, and the Shan highland at the east, which are having the sub-meridional direction. There divides them the Central lowland (the Irrawaddy plain). At the north of the country, the mountain systems converge themselves, and abut upon the mountain structures of Tibet; the highest peak (5887 metres, the Khakaborazi mountain) is situated on the northern border with China. At the south, the mountain ridges become lower, and smoothly transition into the coastal lowland. The climate is tropical monsoonal, at the south is sub-equatorial. The hottest month is April (the average temperature is up to 30-32 degrees Celsius), the coldest one is January (13-25 degrees Celsius). The quantity of the athmospheric precipitation per year is from 500 millimetres within the internal regions to 6500 millimetres within the mountainous regions. All the rivers of Burma belong to the drainage basin of the Indian ocean; the largest ones are the Irrawaddy, Chindwin, Salween, and Seatown, most of them are navigable. Approximately 60% of the territory of Burma is covered by the forests (tropical ones, and monsoonal ones).

Geological structure. The territory of Burma occupies the eastern part of the Mediterranean geosynclinal belt, within the limits of which there are distinguished the series of the geomorphologic-tectonic elements. Within the structure of the folded belt of the eastern Burma, there participate the pre-Cambrian orthogneisses, slightly metamorphosed limestones, and clastic rocks of the Paleozoic. The Mesozoic sediments, mainly the terrigenous ones, fill the individual grabens. The sedimentary formations have been breached by the granites and granodiorites since the pre-Cambrian till the Quaternary ages, there are noted the individual necks (volcanic plugs) of rhyolites. Within the eastern Burma, there have been identified the deposits of the ores of tin, tungsten, antimony, lead, zinc, and the manifestations of fluorite, barite, copper, and manganese. The north-eastern Burma is formed by the metamorphic rocks of the pre-Cambrian, by the ultrabasic and granitoid intrusions, and by the alkaline series. There are confined to the outcrops of the ultramafic rocks the deposits of the ores of chromium, copper, iron, manganese, and jadeite; there are confined to the areas of development of the pre-Cambrian rocks and alkaline intrusions the deposits of gold, and precious stones; there are associated with granites the deposits of the ores of lead, zinc, molybdenum, and so on. There is situated within the Central Burma the Irrawaddy graben, which is filled with the Paleogene-Pleistocene stratum of the continental, riverine, lacustrine, and marine depositions, with the thickness of up to 11 kilometres. Along the central axis of this graben, there has formed itself during the Eocene and Pleistocene the series of the elevations with andesitic volcanism. There are confined to this graben the deposits of petroleum, natural gas, and mineral coal; there are associated with the volcanites of the axial part the copper-porphyry deposits. The Western Burma represents by itself the Arakan-Yoma alpine folded belt, which is formed by limestones, sandstones, and clayish shales of the Cretaceous, with the thickness of up to 4000 metres, by the clays and sandstones of the Paleogene, with the thickness of up to 6000 metres, with the small bodies of the ultramafic rocks and basalts on the eastern slope. There are associated with the ultramafic rocks the manifestations of chromites, nickel, platinum, copper, and iron. The south-western part of Burma occupies the Arakan foredeep, which is formed by the Cenozoic molassic sediments.

The territory of Burma is characterized by the high seismicity. The maximal intensity (9 points on the 12-point scale) has been recorded during the 1931 within the region of the Kamayn mountain. The depth of the focuses of the earthquakes varies from the west to the east from 30 to 150 kilometres and more.

Hydrogeology. On the territory of Burma, within the limits of the mountain structures, there are developed the cracked, cracked-veinous, and karstic fresh waters, which feed the numerous water spring sources. There are most water-bearing the karsted limestones of the different ages, with the yields of the water spring sources of 100-1000 litres per second. There are developed within the Upper Miocene - Pliocene depositions, which are widely distributed on the surface, the prevalently saltish (1-5 grams per litre) waters, less often the fresh waters. The especially unfavourable conditions within the central part of the graben (the "arid zone"), where there is being observed the sharp deficit of the athmospheric precipitation (especially during the May - start of the June), and within the entire cross section, there are distributed the saltish and salty waters. There are most promising for the obtainment of the fresh underground waters within the limits of the central depression the alluvial depositions of the Irrawaddy, Salween, Seatown rivers, where the yields of drilled wells (for example, which are supplying the water for the Yangon city) reach tens of litres per second. Within the limits of the extensive delta part, there are developed the saltish waters, with mineralization from 1.2 to 10 grams per litre.

(Table # 1) The reserves of the major useful minerals
Useful minerals Reserves The content of the useful component, %
total proven
Petroleum, million tonnes - 4 -
Natural gas, billion cubic metres - 4 -
Mineral coal, million tonnes 20 15 -
Brown coal, million tonnes 265 5 -
Iron ores, million tonnes 45 5 50
Nickel ores (1), thousand tonnes 20 15 0.8
Cobalt ores (1), thousand tonnes 15 10 0.1
Tungsten ores (2), thousand tonnes 40 20 0.5-1.0
Copper ores (1), thousand tonnes 500 500 0.8
Lead ores (1), thousand tonnes 1300 1000 4.5
Zinc ores (1), thousand tonnes 800 600 2.7
Tin ores (1), thousand tonnes 500 50 0.5-1.0
Antimony ores (1), thousand tonnes 13 13 5
Barite, thousand tonnes 213 - 92
(1) In terms of metal, (2) In terms of oxide

Useful minerals. On the territory of Burma, there have been discovered and explored the deposits of the petroleum, natural gas, mineral coal, of the ores of nickel, tungsten, tin, copper, lead, zinc, iron, antimony, gold, of the precious and ornamental stones, of barite, salt, and others. (Table # 1).

The fields of petroleum and gas are mainly situated within the limits of the Irrawaddy (Central Burma), and also of the Bengal (South-Western Burma) petroleum-and-gas-bearing basins. Within the limits of the Irrawaddy basin, the petroleum-bearing property is associated with the sandy horizons of the Oligocene - Lower Miocene age. The fields are multi-layered (30-50), the thickness of the layers is 30-40 metres. Most of the deposits are situated within the middle reaches of the Irrawaddy river, namely, the Enandzhaun, Mann, Minbu, and also within its lower reaches, namely, the Myanaun, Pyay (Prom), and others.

The deposits of the mineral coal are known within the eastern Burma, where the thin, very unorderly along the strike, layers of the coking coal are embedded within the shale stratum of the Jurassic. The deposits of the brown coals are situated within the graben of the Central Burma (the largest deposit is Kaleva, the total reserves are 109.8 million tonnes). At the extreme south of the country, there are known the small depositions of the petroleum shales.

The reserves of the ores of the ferrous metals within Burma are small. The small deposits of the limonite-hematitic ores are situated within the eastern Burma. The small ore manifestations of manganese may be found at the east, and of chromites at the west of the country.

Burma is rich in the deposits of the ores of the non-ferrous metals. Within the eastern Burma, there is situated the largest polymetallic deposit within the south-eastern Asia, namely, Baudouin. The total reserves of the low quality ores (the content of Pb is 3.5%, of Ag is 60-90 grams per tonne), which are suitable for the open pit development of this deposit, are estimated at 30 million tonnes of the ore, including 5.77 million tonnes of the high quality ores (Pb is 6.34%, Zn is 3.6%) for the underground development. The promising deposits of lead and zinc are mainly situated within the northern part of the eastern Burma (the Boskhayn deposit, with 26.8 million tonnes of the total reserves; the Yadanateyn deposit, with 1.5 million tonnes of the reserves). Within the Mounyua district (Central Burma), there have been identified several deposits of the copper ore, namely, the Sabetown, Chisintown, Lepatown (Lepadowntown), the total reserves of which exceed 70 million tonnes of the ore, where the content of Cu is 1.3-1.5%. The country holds the 4th place within Asia in the reserves of the ores of tin, and the 3rd place within Asia in the reserves of the ores of tungsten. The deposits of these ores are confined to the eastern belt of Burma. The average content of tin is 0.5-1% within the country rock ores, and 0.3-0.7 kilograms per cubic metre within the sands. The largest deposits are: Mochi (the total reserves are 831 thousand tonnes of ore), Yadanabon (182 thousand tonnes), Hamindzhi (Hermindzhi). The territory, which is promising because of the searches for the country rock and placer deposits of the ores with tin and tungsten, is traced as the narrow strip along the coast of the Andaman sea, and on the coastal shelf part of the water area. The country holds the 4th place within Asia in the reserves of the nickel ores. The deposits have been identified within the limits of the western belt of Burma; the largest deposit is the Muetown.

On the territory of Burma, there are known the deposits of the precious and ornamental stones, namely, the best within the world ruby and precious noble jadeite, including its unique translucent variety of the emerald green colour (imperial). The deposits of ruby are situated within the north-eastern Burma, within the region of the Mogo mountain, among the deeply metamorphosed pre-Cambrian rocks. The rubies, sapphires, and jewellery-grade spinel are associated with the skarned marbles, which have been breached by the dikes of granites and pegmatites. There have the major practical significance the eluvial-diluvial placer deposits. The deposits of jadeite are situated within the north-western part of Burma, within the basin of the Uyu river (the tributary of the Chindwin river), and are represented by the metasomatic albite-jadeite veins within the serpentinized peridotites (Taumau, Menmau, and others). The boulders and pebbles of jadeite may be found within the ancient Quaternary conglomerates, and within the modern alluvial depositions of the Uyu river (Hveka, Mamon, Panhma, and others). Within the north-eastern part of Burma, there are known the small deposits of the brown-red amber, which is also named as burmite, which may be found at the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers, within the sandstones and carbonaceous clayish shales of the Eocene. The deposits of the precious and ornamental stones have not been studied well enough; the reserves have not been counted.

Mining industry. General characteristic. The mining industry of Burma distinguishes itself by the low level of development. During the 2nd World War of the 1939-45, many mining enterprises have been destructed. Because of the deficit of the money and equipment, their restoration proceeded slowly, but since the end of the 50-ies till the start of the 60-ies, there have been started more intensive reorganization and restoration of the mining enterprises. During the 70-ies, Burma provided its needs with the produce of the mining-extracting industry for 80%, of which there hold the significant place the petroleum and the ores of the non-ferrous metals, namely, of tin, tungsten, polymetals (see the Map, and the Table # 2).

The mining industry of Burma is nationalized, and is administered by the 4 governmental corporations "Myanma Mineral Development Mining Corp." (# 1, 2, 3, 4), each of which deals with the extraction of the determined types of the mineral raw materials. For the purpose of the obtainment of the money for the construction of the new extracting enterprises, and for the reconstruction of the old enterprises, there is attracted the foreign capital in the form of the loans, and leases. Since the 1979, several foreign petroleum monopolies, including the "British Petroleum", have obtained the concessions for the searching for the petroleum and gas on the coastal shelf. For the extraction of the non-ferrous metals, which is conducted by the governmental sector, there are used the loans and technical assistance from the international organizations, and also from the foreign firms (from Canada, West Germany, Japan, Australia, Yugoslavia).

The country exports the ores and concentrates of tin, tungsten, lead, zinc, antimony, silver, copper, mainly into Japan, West Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Belgium, ruby into the USA, Great Britain, West Germany, and other countries, jadeite into Hong Kong, China, Japan, petroleum (in small quantities) into Japan and Australia. All external commerce is monitored by the "Myanma Export-Import Corp." governmental company. The income from the export amounts to 243 million dollars (1978).

Petroleum and gas industry. On the territory of Burma, many petroleum fields have been exhausted, the cumulative extraction is approximately 60 million tonnes (1980). For the expansion of the exploration and extraction of petroleum, there have been assigned during the end of the 70-ies the large investments, and there have been discovered several petroleum fields and promising areas. The petroleums are light and medium (the density is 816-850 kilograms per cubic metre), highly paraffinic (8-10%), slightly bituminous (7.5-8%). There work within the country 425 productive petroleum wells (1980). There yield approximately 70% of the total extraction the fields on the western bank of the Irrawaddy river (near the Minbu city), which are used only for 65% of their productive capacity, because of the deficit of the transport means and petroleum pipelines. There work within the country the petroleum pipelines, which are connecting the Enandzhaun, Chau, and Mann fields with the Tanhlin city (the length is approximately 700 kilometres). There are being constructed the small petroleum pipelines to the railway stations and sea ports. They process the petroleum at the 2 plants with the total productive capacity of 1.4 million tonnes per year within the Chau and Tanhlin cities, there is planned the construction of the 3 plants with the designed productive capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per year each.

(Table # 2) The extraction of the major types of the mineral raw materials
Mineral raw materials 1939 1950 1960 1970 1980
Petroleum (with condensate), million tonnes 1.070 0.100 0.6 0.9 1.6
Natural gas (marketable), million cubic metres - - - - 0.2
Mineral coal, thousand tonnes - - 1.0 11.00 -
Iron ores, thousand tonnes 0.026 - 0.008 0.002 -
Tungsten ores (1), thousand tonnes 7.2 0.93 1.14 0.46 0.89
Copper ores (2), thousand tonnes 8.1 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.1
Nickel ores (2), thousand tonnes - - 0.073 0.1 0.1
Tin ores (2), thousand tonnes 5.588 1.500 1.2 0.43 1.1
Lead ores (2), thousand tonnes 78.5 1 17.7 13.0 14.0
Silver ores (4), tonnes - - 46.7 30 29.7
Antimony ores (2), thousand tonnes - 0.04 0.163 0.065 0.64 (3)
Zinc ores (2), thousand tonnes 60.0 - 10.3 3.7 3.9
Barite, thousand tonnes - - - 13.5 -
Rock salt, thousand tonnes 59 21.5 148 157 300 (3)
(1) The oxide within the concentrate, (2) The metal within the concentrate, (3) The data for the 1979, (4) Metal

Extraction of the ores of the non-ferrous metals. There is the largest region of the lead-zinc industry with Burma the Bawdwin-Namtu one, where are also extracted as the by-product the ores of silver, copper, and nickel. The extraction is performed mainly (approximately 70%) by the open pit method, and amounts to 150-300 thousand tonnes of the ore per year. The beneficiation plant for the production of the lead-zinc concentrate works at the Yadanatheingi deposit. The production of the concentrates of zinc, the smelting of lead and silver, are performed within the Namtu city.

They extract the tin-tungsten ores by the open pit and underground methods at the Mochi, Haneda, Yadanabon, Miynmatti, Haynes, Kanbau, and other deposits; the centre for the processing is the Tavoy city. The largest tin mine is Haneda (the depositions of the ores have been discovered during the 1927; by the 1969, there have been obtained 10 thousand tonnes of the tin concentrate). The modernization of the mines within this region will permit to increase their productive capacity up to 600 tonnes of the ore per hour. There are planned the increase of the production of the tin-tungsten ores at the Haynes deposit, which is being developed by the open pit method, and the construction of the beneficiation plant (with productive capacity of 1 thousand tonne of concentrate per year). With the help of the UN Development Program, there are explored the reserves of the tin ores within the coastal waters of the Tanintharyi (Tenasserim) region. Within the framework of the Colombo Plan, the Australian experts conduct the study of the coastal sands within the Rakhine and Tanintharyi regions. The extraction of the copper ores is small. Yugoslavia has provided for Burma the loan and technical help for the construction of the beneficiation workshop for the copper smelting plant. The small quantity of the nickel ores is extracted at the Bawdwin deposit (0.1 thousand tonnes of nickel, 1979).

Extraction of other useful minerals. On the territory of Burma, they extract precious and ornamental stones since the old times. The operation of the deposits is conducted under the monitoring of the government, mostly with the usage of the manual labour. The extraction of the high-quality jadeite, and especially of the ruby, has decreased as the consequence of the exhaustion of the deposits. Further searches and intensive development of the deposits are stimulated by the increasing of the prices for the precious stones. The volumes of the extraction and sales of the precious and ornamental stones fluctuate very much, as well as the income from their export, which depends on the availability of the high-quality stones. During the 1970-78, the extraction of jadeite within Burma ranged from 4.2 to 16 tonnes per year.

Within the various regions of Burma, they extract marble, kaolin, limestone, dolomite, quartzous sands, barite, and so on. The loans, which have been provided by Canada, are used for the increasing of the extraction of barite at the Mainew and Chance deposits up to 40 thousand tonnes per year. With the help of the USSR, there are constructed the open pit mines for the extraction of gypsum at the Sipo deposit, and of limestone at the Pyinmana deposit.

Geological service. Scientific institutions. Training of the cadres. Publishing. The geological and mining works within Burma are conducted under the governance of the Ministry for the mining activities. There are subordinated to this Ministry the departments for the geological service, for the exploration for the useful minerals, for the planning and inspection, and also the governmental corporations.

The geological researches are conducted within the Burmese joint institute for the applied researches (Union of Burma Applied Research Institute), within the structure of which there is located the Department for the metallurgy and geological researches, and also within the Division for the mineralogical researches of the Centre for the nuclear energy of Burma (Atomic Energy Centre).

They train the cadres with the mining and geological specialization at the universities within the Yangon and Mandalay cities, and at the Technological institute within the Yangon city.

There is periodically published the "Science and Technology" journal.