Deadly Jade Landslide Shines Light on Pitfalls For Investors Eyeing Murky Industry


A landslide in Kachin’s infamous jade mining region has killed at least 20 people, according to reports, in the latest disaster to blight the murky industry.

Another two people were injured when a 400ft mound of debris in Hpakant gave way last Wednesday, burying foragers who were searching for fragments of precious stones, according to outlets including the staterun Chinese news agency Xinhua.

A rescue operation did not begin until Thursday morning because authorities feared a secondary landslide, reports said.

Deadly landslides are a common threat to the impoverished workers who sift through soil and debris from Hpakant’s mines. In 2015, 38 collapses killed over 300 people, figures from the Myanmar Red Cross Society show. The largest incident in November of that year killed 115.

Last week’s tragedy is another reminder of the pitfalls for investors who may be eyeing the lucrative but infamous industry.

The opaque trade is rife with labour rights abuses and poor safety standards, leading many to question the wisdom of President Barack Obama’s decision to lift sanctions on Myanmar jade last October.

Scot Marciel, the US Ambassador in Yangon, told Myanmar Business Today in a recent interview that despite the end of the sanctions, US gems companies were not eager
to enter the jade market here.

“My understanding is the US company interest is not so much in the jade trade, the demand isn’t that great in the United States,” he said. “So it’s
more in things like perhaps rubies where there’s more demand and as I understand it it’s a different industry here. So it’s not directed on jade and the ruby industry I think is more in the hands of family companies and so on.”

The multi-billion dollar black market trade in jade is believed to be controlled largely by Myanmar’s military elites has “been having discussions with the (Myanmar) government, but also with civil society and with business groups” about addressing “the very complicated issue of regulation and management of the jade and gemstone


Source: Myanmar Business Today


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