The Myitsone Hydroelectric Dam is a large dam and hydroelectric power development project currently under construction on the Irawaddy River in Burma (Myanmar). If completed as planned in 2017, it will be the fifteenth largest hydroelectric power station in the world. The dam, planned to be 500 feet wide and 500 feet high, is being built by agents of the State Peace and Development Council and the China Power Investment Corporation. It is estimated that it will provide between 3,600 to 6,000 megawatts of electricity for Yunnan, China.

The Myitsone Hydroelectric Dam is located 3.2 km (2.0 mi) mile below the confluence of the Mali River and the N'Mai River about 42 kilometres (26.1 mi) north of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, in northern Burma.

The source of both the N'mai and Mali Rivers is the Himalaya glaciers of northern Burma in the vicinity of 28° N. The eastern most of the two, N'mai river, is the larger stream and rises in the Languela Glacier north of Putao. It is unnavigable because of the strong current whereas the smaller western river, the Mali, is navigable, despite a few rapids.

The Irrawaddy Myitsone Dam is the biggest of seven large dams currently planned on the Mali River, the N'Mai River and the Irawaddy rivers. The China Power Investment Corporation is project manager of the Confluence Region Hydropower Projects. The seven dams combined total design installed capacity is 13,360 MW of electricity.

The Myitsone dam will provide electricity primarily to the China Southern Power Grid via its subsidiary, the Yunnan Power Grid Company, in Yunnan Province and then on to the power hungry eastern coastal areas of China, in conformity with the Chinese central Government's 'West to East Transmission Policy'. The hydropower project is being implemented under an agreement signed in late 2006 with the state-owned China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) and Burma’s Ministry of Electric Power No 1. The dam and reservoir planning and construction is managed by the Burmese military junta in cooperation with the China Southern Power Grid and several subcontractors.

On 16 June 2009, Myanmar Ambassador Thein Lwin and President of China Power Investment Corporation Lu Qizhou signed the Memorandum of Agreement between Department of Hydropower Implementation and China Power Investment Corporation for the Development, Operation and Transfer of the Hydropower Projects in Maykha, Malikha and Upstream of Ayeyawady-Myitsone River Basins.

The prime Burmese contractor is Asia World Company, founded by the drug lord Lo Hsing Han and now run by his son Tun Myint Naing] (Steven Law), one of the sanctioned financial operatives with strong links to the Burmese regime.

Additional Chinese participation comes from Yunnan Machinery Equipment Import & Export Company. At least one Japanese company is involved, Kansai Electric Power Company.


The dam is planned to be a concrete faced rock-fill dam 152 m (498.7 ft) in both height and width, and is projected to produce it's design output of 3,600 megawatts (MW) of electricity by 2017. This is equivalent to 16% of the 22,500 MW output of the Three Gorges Dam In China, the world's largest electricity-generating plant of any kind.


In 2002, the Irawaddy Myitsone Dam Multipurpose Water Utilization Project was written by the Myanmar Electrical Power Enterprise and the Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry. The Japanese Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) built a small weather station at Tang Hpre village, near the confluence. A KEPCO survey team came to the site twice in 2003. In February 2004 Yunnan Machinery Equipment Import & Export Company] (YMEC) and Kunming Hydropower Institute of Design, both from China, surveyed the dam site. In November 2005 the YMEC and Myanmar Ministry of Electricity signed a memorandum of understanding in Kunming for the N'Mai River Basin Development Cooperation.

In August 2006, Suntac Technologies Co. Ltd., a Burmese Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping contractor set up an office at the monastery in Tang Hpre village and surveyed the dam site. They also set up a temporary camp at Washawng village to facilitate transport of survey equipment from the YMEC company in China. In October 2006, the Asia World Company built a project implementation camp on a hill top at the dam site 3 mi (4.8 km) downstream from the confluence. when the camp was complete, Chinese inspectors stayed and surveyed the area for five months. In December 2006, The Ministry of Electric Power No. 1 and China Power Investment Corporation signed a memorandum of Understanding for the 3,6000 MW project at Myitsone and the 2,000 MW project at Chibwe. Asia World Company was also present at this ceremony.

In January 2007, the Changjiang Design Institute of China sent several groups of design personnel and conducted geological drilling, reservoir inspection and hydrological measuring near the dam site. surveyors photo, inspectors photo In April 2007, the groundbreaking ceremony was held for a small 65 KW power plant on Chibwe Creek that will supply power for construction of Myitsone and Chibwe dams. In May 2007, the New Light of Myanmar reported that the Ministry of Power No. 1 and CPI will build seven hydropower dams on the N'Mai and Irawaddy rivers. The Chibwe plant will supply power for construction of all seven dams. On May 1, an opening ceremony was held for the project supervisory office in Myitkyina.

In late 2007, Burmese Army Light Infantry Battalion #121 moved into the Myitsone area as security for the hydroelectric dam site. They moved into the library in Tang Hpre village, 5 km (3.1 mi) from the dam site and stayed there, rather than staying in their designated camp near the dam site. They extorted money from local merchants and took materials from shops. They also took vegetables from the villagers' farms and walked away with pigs and chickens. In January 2008, about 20 Chinese and a few Burmese engineers were working on the site, plus about 300 construction workers from the Asia World Company. In October 2009, about 2,000 Chinese labourers with the Asia World Company were logging, gold mining and digging tunnels at the project site. They were secretly transported there in groups at night through the Chinese border in Kachin State.

In November 2009, one hundred elephants were requisitioned by Asia World Company to pull logs from the forests near the hydropower project site to the log camps. On December 21, 2009, the official opening ceremony for the dam construction phase was held by officials of the military, China Power Investment Corporation and Asia World Company.

Impact of Myitsone Dam

If this large dam is built, it will flood 766 km2 (295.8 sq mi)including 47 villages near the construction site and displace more than 10,000 ethnic Kachin people living in those villages. The large military security presence, forced relocations, deforestation and floods will follow hand-in-hand with its construction. The dam will also submerge historical temples, churches and cultural heritage sites important to Kachin identity and history. The natural heritage of the Kachin people in Myitsone area will be devastated.

Roads linking major towns in this remote area will be flooded by the planned reservoir having a negative impact on the transportation, communication and trade of the Kachin people in far greater numbers than those 10,000 physically displaced.

Other consequences of flooding by the reservoir include loss of farmland and loss of spawning habitat as fishes can not swim upstream anymore. The Kachin Development Networking Group, a network of civil society groups and development organisations in Kachin State warn this will lead to a loss of income for photo As with other large dam projects, the Myitsone Dam construction will alter the hydrological characteristics of the river and prevent sediment from enriching the traditionally highly productive agricultural floodplains downstream. This can affect fertility as far downstream as the Irrawaddy Delta, the major rice-producing area of Myanmar.

Ecological concerns focus on the inundation of an area that is the border of the Indo-Burma and South Central China biodiversity hotspot. The Mali and N'mai River confluence region falls within the Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin rainforests, including the1,472 square miles (3,810 km2) Khakaborazi National Park which is on the WWF list of outstanding examples of biodiverse regions.

Direct medical impacts anticipated from the project include increased incidence of malaria and shistosomiasis infection and methylmercury poisoning from submerged gold mining sites.

The energy produced by the dam will decrease the need for air pouting sources of energy such as fossil fuel. The construction and the maintaining of the dam will employ a large amount of people.

Environmental opposition

In February 2004 the Tanf Hpre villagers sent a letter of concern to leading Kachin organizations. In addition to environmental impacts, community displacement, and threats to cultural sites; local communities oppose a dam at Myikyina because it is less than 100 km (62.1 mi) from the major Sagaing fault line, posing a risk to basin inhabitants if an earthquake weakens the dam structure or causes landslides in the reservoir. If the Irrawaddy Myitsone Dam broke during an earthquake, it would endanger the lives of hundred of thousands of people downstream in Kachin State’s largest city, Myikyina. Recent earthquakes in the region, such as the 5.3 magnitude earthquake that struck near the Burma-China border on August 20, 2008, prompted Naw Lar, the coordinator of the Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG) dam research project, to ask the junta to reconsider its dam projects.

In May 2007, 12 local leaders from Kachin State sent a letter to Senior General Than Shwe and the junta’s Ministry of Electric Power asking for the project to be cancelled.

In December 2007, the Burma Rivers Network also sent a letter to the Chinese government asking Chinese companies operating in Burma to conduct environmental and social impact assessments, publicly release information, and include affected communities in the decision-making process. Neither letter received a response.

On February 5, 2010, the UK-based Kachin National Organization (KNO) protested against construction of the dam in front of the Burmese Embassies in the UK, Japan, Australia and USA. That date was the 49th Kachin Revolution Day, commemorating the establishment of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the military arm of the Kachin Independence Organisation.

On April 17, 2010, three bombs exploded close to the site of dam, killing four Chinese workers. Burmese government blamed Kachin Independence Army for planting the bombs, KIA, however, has denied having anything to do with the Myitsone bombing.

Myitsone Dam
Locale Kachin, Burma
Construction began 2007
Opening date 2017 est.
Construction cost US$ 3.6 billion
Owner(s) Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise, China Power Investment Corporation, China Southern Power Grid
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Concrete faced rock-fill dam
Height 152 m (498.7 ft)
Length 152 m (498.7 ft)
Impounds Irawaddy River
Creates Myitsone reservoir
Surface area 766 km2 (295.8 sq mi)
Max. water depth 290 m (951.4 ft)
Power station
Installed capacity 3,600 MW
Annual generation 16,634 Gigawatt hours per year