Hundreds of Jade Mining Licenses Expire This Month

By Myat Pyae Phyo 25 July 2016

Burma’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation has released a list of 310 jade mining companies in Kachin State who will be unable to renew their licenses when they expire at the end of this month.

The government previously said it would not renew expired jade mining licenses until it had worked out a management plan that met international environmental norms.

Most of the expiring licenses belong to jade miners operating in Kachin State’s Mohnyin, Hpakant and Lone Khin areas, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation’s website.

The ministry is prepared to develop an environmental management plan and will regulate mining companies in line with that plan, said Win Htein, director general of the ministry.

“We won’t renew the licenses of mining companies that do not meet the norms,” he said.

Kachin State’s jade mines came into the spotlight after hundreds of miners were killed during numerous landslides in Hpakant Township last year. The worst incident killed at least 110 people at a mining waste dumpsite last November.

“This is a good move. But companies aren’t just operating in one mining field. The question is how the government will check that these companies with expired licenses really cease operations,” said Myint Han, information officer at the Myanmar Gems and Jewelry Entrepreneurs Association.

Jade dealers said they doubt the new government can effectively enforce the ban on mining in Kachin State, where the rule of law is weak because of ongoing fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army.

Meanwhile, thousands of Burmese jade dealers have collected signatures on a petition calling for the new National League for Democracy (NLD) government to temporarily halt gemstone mining and stop illegal exports to China in an effort to increase prices on the domestic market, according to sources at the Myanmar Gems and Jewelry Entrepreneurs Association.

Existing regulations require jade dealers to pay the government a 28 percent tax on every sale. Sellers who want to avoid the tax sell illegally to China, according to sources at the association.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.