Burma

All Remaining Jade Mining Licenses to Expire in 2018

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 27 July 2016

RANGOON — The government has announced that all remaining jade mining licenses will expire in 2018, and licenses will only be considered for renewal after the completion of an environmental management plan for jade mining areas of Kachin State.

With the government’s decision not to renew jade mining licenses, 310 mining companies operating in Kachin State will have to stop by the end of the month, as listed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.

However, the existing licenses of several hundred other companies remain valid until the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year, according to Myanmar Gems Enterprise director Min Thu.

Seven hundred companies are currently operating in the jade mining areas of Hpakant, Lone Khin and Mohnyin in Kachin State.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) government has also been restricting the import of machines and vehicles used for jade mining in Kachin State, after a reported upsurge in jade extraction, and the smuggling of machinery from China, prior to the formation of the NLD government at the end of March.

“This is part of the new government’s policy to protect the environment in the area,” said Min Thu, who added, “I’m not worried about the jade market because we still have enough raw jade waiting to be sold.”

He said the government would still be able to hold its biannual Gems Emporium in Naypyidaw, with current raw jade stocks sufficing for at least the next three years.

Mandalay Gems Traders Association secretary Aung Thein criticized the government’s policy, saying they should take action against individuals who have broken the law and harmed the environment, rather than put licenses for all companies on hold.

He added that the government “should listen to the voices” of those outside of companies who are illegally handpicking jade for their livelihoods in the Kachin State mines, who are “abused” by the companies and made vulnerable by reckless large-scale mining—including through the ever-present threat of landslides, which have killed hundreds.

“The government should go and see what is happening there,” he said. “We are appealing to the Lower House of Parliament on this issue.”

Aung Thein added that the jade market has suffered in recent months, due largely to a slowdown in demand from China, where most of Burma’s jade is destined, alongside over-extraction. Prices have been falling and unsold raw jade has been piling up at the Chinese border at Muse in Shan State.

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