The Irrawaddy

Giant Jade Stone Uncovered in Kachin State

RANGOON — A giant jade stone estimated to weigh 210 tons was uncovered in the jade mining hub of Hpakant in Kachin State last week and is now being guarded by police.

“We can say it is the largest piece of jade ever unearthed in Burma,” confirmed U Win Htein, director general from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.

The jade stone, measuring 19-feet long by 14-feet high by 15-feet wide, has not yet been valued and how to transport the stone is still under negotiation, according to U Win Htein.

He told The Irrawaddy that the valuable stone was discovered at Yadanar Taung Tann Gems Co.’s mine, which is operating in a 60:40 joint venture with the ministry, in Sate Mu village, Hpakant Township last Monday.

“A 3,000-ton piece was found in the state in [the year] 2000 but was not uncovered,” U Win Htein said, making this the largest piece of jade unearthed in Burma. The previous slab of jade was more than 70-feet long by 20-feet high by 16-feet wide and donated to the ruling junta.

A report released by the London-based NGO Global Witness in October last year revealed that vast revenues generated by Burma’s jade trade continue to flow into the pockets of senior military officials and well-connected crony firms.

The report titled “Jade: Myanmar’s ‘Big State Secret’” estimated that Burma’s jade production was valued as high as US$31 billion for the year 2014.

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.