Myanmar Jade Mine Landslide Arouses Attention to China's Strong Demand for Jade

Myanmar Jade Mine Landslide Arouses Attention to China's Strong Demand for Jade
示意圖,非實際礦難照片。Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

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Last month, a landslide in the same mountainous area in Kachin State killed 114 people. The landslide occurred in Hpakant, an area where lies the source of virtually all of the world's finest jadeite, a near-translucent green stone that is enormously prized in neighboring China and attracts the poor-stricken workers to risk their lives mining over the place.

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Dozens of people were feared dead in northern Myanmar after a landslide hit a jade mining region on December 25. Workers at a mining company said the landslide was the second such episode in just over a month.

Last month, a landslide in the same mountainous area in Kachin State killed 114 people. The landslide occurred in Hpakant, an area where lies the source of virtually all of the world’s finest jadeite, a near-translucent green stone that is enormously prized in neighboring China and attracts the poor-stricken workers to risk their lives mining over the place.

The paper quoted Tin Swe Myint, head of the Hpakant Township Administration Office, as saying that the landslide took place after most workers had finished work and unlike last month’s tragedy it had not engulfed a row of shanty houses.

However, according to a worker of the mining company, it is said that about 50 people were buried in the collapsed dump and several bodies were found. The number of casualties is still unclear.

The two incidents highlight the risk resulting from China’s need of jade.

In an October report, advocacy group Global Witness estimated that the value of Myanmar jade produced in 2014 alone was US$31 billion and said the trade might be the “biggest natural resource heist in modern history."

But while mining firms, many linked to the junta-era military elite, are thought to be raking in huge sums, local people complain they are shut off from the bounty.

Although the United States eased most of the ban on imports from the country when a quasi-civilian government took power in 2011 after five decades of military dictatorship, an American ban on Myanmar jade remains in place over concerns that jade mining benefits military figures and fuels corruption and human rights abuses.

Translated and compiled by June
Edited by Olivia Yang

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