NAYPYITAW — The jade mining industry in Myanmar, one of the world’s richest sources of the gem, is scrambling to meet rising Chinese demand, sometimes at the cost of human lives.
Yet this booming trade has not translated into growth beyond the dangerous work of extraction. In fact, Myanmar’s jade processing industry has languished, mainly owing to a lack of capital.
During the annual legal trade exhibition last month in Naypyitaw, the country’s capital, 423 million euros ($493 million) of the ornamental green stone was sold, 21.4% more than last year.
As mines in Myanmar’s northernmost state of Kachin expand production to satisfy Chinese buyers, they face accusations of failing to invest in safety improvements amid a string of deadly accidents.
On July 14, at least 15 people were killed and about 40 others injured in a landslide at the Mahar Gem block in Hpakant Township, the country’s most famous jade producing area. A wall of rock collapsed as people were digging for jade stones after a monsoon storm struck the area.
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