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Gems - mining and trade

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: Gemstones and Burma (political and technical articles)
Language: English
Date of entry/update: 29 January 2004


Individual Documents

Title: Lords of Jade
Date of publication: 03 December 2015
Description/subject: How a narcotics kingpin and his associates used opaque company structures to take a dominant role in Myanmar’s most valuable natural resource business.....SUMMARY: "Myanmar’s jade business may be the biggest natural resource heist in modern history. The sums of money involved are almost incomprehensibly high and the levels of accountability are at rock bottom. One of the most dominant and dangerous groups involved is a collection of companies controlled by Myanmar’s most famous drug lord, Wei Hsueh Kang. This report shows how Wei Hsueh Kang and his associates, following the template of terrorists, kleptocrats and mafia the world over, have used a web of opaque company structures to build, and disguise, a jade empire. ..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Global Witness
Format/size: pdf (1.6MB)
Date of entry/update: 06 December 2015


Title: Jade: Myanmar’s ‘Big State Secret,’ (English, Kachin, Burmese ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: 23 October 2015
Description/subject: "...Myanmar’s jade industry may well be the biggest natural resource heist in modern history. The sums of money involved are almost incomprehensibly high and the level of accountability is at rock bottom. As long as the ghosts of the military junta are allowed to dominate a business worth equivalent to almost half the country’s GDP, it is difficult to envisage an end to the conflict in Kachin State. Lessons from other nations afflicted by the resource curse, as well as Myanmar’s own history, suggest that the threats to the country’s wider political and economic stability are also very real...Since 2011, Myanmar’s rebranded government has told the world it is transitioning from a pariah state run by a ruthless military dictatorship to a civilian regime committed to wholesale political and economic reforms. In important respects, there has been real change. Oft-cited examples include the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, and the government’s peace talks with ethnic armed groups. But in other critical areas, the reformist narrative bears little scrutiny. Nowhere is this truer than in the jade sector. Drawing on over a year of investigations, this report shows for the first time how a multi-billion dollar trade in one of the planet’s most precious gemstones is tightly controlled by the same military elites, US-sanctioned drug lords and crony companies that the government says it is consigning to the past. Companies owned by the family of former dictator Than Shwe and other notorious figures are creaming off vast profits from the country’s most valuable natural resource, and the world’s finest supply of a stone synonymous with glitz and glamour. Meanwhile, very few revenues reach the people of Kachin State, the site of the Hpakant jade mines, or the population of Myanmar as a whole. As the country approaches an historic election, the importance of these findings to Myanmar’s future is hard to overstate. Our investigations show that the elites who between them have most to lose from an open and fair future also have ready access to a vast slush fund in the shape of the jade sector. This raises urgent questions for reformers and their international partners. What is happening to all this jade money? Is it only being spent on real estate, fast cars and lavish parties, or is it being used for political purposes as well?..."
Language: English, Kachin, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: Global Witness
Format/size: html, pdf (5.1MB-reduced version; Executive Summary: English, 926MB; Burmese, 1.4MB; Kachin, 2.2MB)
Alternate URLs: https://www.globalwitness.org/reports/myanmarjade/ (Original, GW site)
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/GW-2015-10-23-Jade-ES-en-red.pdf (Executive Summary - English)
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/GW-2015-10-23-Jade-ES-bu-red.pdf Executive Summary-Burmese)
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/GW-2015-10-23-Jade-ES-kachin-red.pdf (Executive Summary-Kachin)
Date of entry/update: 24 October 2015


Title: Local Observers Welcome Jade Industry Exposé, Call for Reform
Date of publication: 23 October 2015
Description/subject: " Locals involved in the gem trade have called for reform to the sector after an explosive new report into Burma’s jade industry. Friday’s report, published by Global Witness, estimates the value of the country’s jade trade at US$31 billion in 2014—nearly half of the country’s gross domestic product. It claimed that most of the wealth from jade production flowed directly into the coffers of military conglomerates, well-connected firms and former junta figures, including the family of Snr-Gen Than Shwe. Myanmar Gems and Jewellery Entrepreneurs Association secretary Tun Hla Aung said that the report was a stark reminder of the massive amounts of wealth that had been stripped from the country as a result of black market trade..."
Author/creator: Kyaw Hsu Mon
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 24 October 2015


Title: Gem traders in Mandalay oppose moving marketplace
Date of publication: 15 December 2014
Description/subject: Gem traders in Mandalay are gearing up in opposition to a government plan to relocate Burma’s biggest jade and gem market. Local traders, who have long opposed a relocation plan that would move them from downtown Mandalay to Amarapura, in the outskirts of the city, said they would submit a formal complaint to the divisional parliament while the issue is under debate by lawmakers. “We will submit a complaint to the divisional parliament and request that the market be upgraded instead of moved, as we all wish,” said Than Win, a trader and chairman of a community committee advocating for renovation
Author/creator: Zarni Mann
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 21 December 2014


Title: Will Myanmar’s Government walk its talk on extractive industries reform? Jade trade will be key test Myanmar
Date of publication: 02 December 2014
Description/subject: "Myanmar’s exports of the jade mined in northern Kachin State are estimated to be worth US$6-9 billion per year. But the government’s tax take is paltry and, as today’s New York Times article shows, the people of Kachin see few benefits. So where’s the money? And what can be done to ensure that it goes where it should? Myanmar’s exports of the jade mined in northern Kachin State are estimated to be worth US$6-9 billion per year. But the government’s tax take is paltry and, as today’s New York Times article shows, the people of Kachin see few benefits. So where’s the money? And what can be done to ensure that it goes where it should? Answering these questions is critical both to the government’s efforts to tackle corruption and the prospects for a lasting peace in Kachin State, the scene of Myanmar’s most serious armed conflict..."
Author/creator: Mike Davis
Language: English
Source/publisher: Global Witness
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 December 2014


Title: Searching for Burmese Jade, and Finding Misery... Video Feature: Jade’s Journey Marked by Drugs and Death (video)
Date of publication: 01 December 2014
Description/subject: "As China grows, so does its appetite for jade. But the gemstone’s journey from Myanmar’s mines to China’s consumers follows a trail of addiction, infection and exploitation"....."MYITKYINA, Myanmar — At 16, the gem trader’s son set out for the jade mines to seek his fortune in the precious stone that China craves. But a month in, the teenager, Sang Aung Bau Hkum, was feeding his own addiction: heroin, the drug of choice among the men who work the bleak terrain of gouged earthen pits, shared needles and dwindling hope here in the jungles of northern Myanmar. Three years later he finally found what he had come for — a jade rock “as green as a summer leaf.” He spent some of the $6,000 that a Chinese trader paid him on a motorcycle, a cellphone and gambling. “The rest disappeared into my veins,” he said, tapping the crook in his left arm as dozens of other gaunt miners in varying states of withdrawal passed the time at a rudimentary rehabilitation clinic here. “The Chinese bosses know we’re addicted to heroin, but they don’t care. Their minds are filled with jade.”..."
Author/creator: Dan Levin (article); Jonah M. Kessel (video)
Language: English
Source/publisher: "New York Times"
Format/size: html, Adobe Flash
Date of entry/update: 03 December 2014


Title: Myanmar's Jade Curse (video)
Date of publication: 28 November 2014
Description/subject: "China's jade obsession drives a multi-billion dollar black market that fuels a drug-infested jade mining industry....Gold is valuable but jade is priceless, so goes a Chinese saying. For centuries, the Chinese consider jade an imperial stone with mystical properties. Today it is coveted all over China as a status symbol, a collectible and an investment. Demand from increasingly wealthy Chinese drives the value of jade through the roof. At this year's Shanghai World Jewellery Expo, auctioneers put the opening bid for top grade jade items at more than $160 a gram, exceeding four times the price of gold. Intricately designed pieces, made from top grade jade known as jadeite, are viewed as attractive investments despite the lack of scientific valuation methods. In recent years, jadeite has provided better returns than real estate. But the imperial stone delivers a death sentence to treasure hunters in Myanmar, where China's jadeite comes from. Most of Myanmar's raw jade enters a murky black market. Its official revenue from jade exports over from 2011 to 2014 was $1.3bn. But Harvard University's Ash Center estimates total jade sales - including through unofficial channels - were $8bn in 2011 alone, suggesting most of the revenue does not go into government coffers. The Myanmar government will not speak to us on camera. But our investigations reveal a corrupt senior government official who works with businessmen in the illegal trade of raw jade, including helping to falsify tax documents. In northern Kachin state, we follow jade smugglers to the remote Hpakant mining town, the source of the world's best jade. The men are part of the government's border guard force. The officer in charge tells us how he pays off army and police commanders along the smuggling trail to China..."
Author/creator: Chan Tao Chou
Language: English
Source/publisher: Aljazeera (101 East)
Format/size: Adobe Flash (28 minutes)
Date of entry/update: 30 November 2014


Title: Kachin protesters demand slice of mining wealth
Date of publication: 22 November 2014
Description/subject: "More than 2,000 residents joined a protest on November 20 in Phakant, Kachin State, demanding greater autonomy for the state government to enable it to administer resource extraction in the state and improve security and living standards. The protest is said to be connected with the death of a resident who was killed while solo gem mining on October 31 in Phakant with protesters saying that commercial mining provides no benefit for residents..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Eleven Media"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 21 December 2014


Title: Picturing Poor Governance: The Lives of Myanmar's Illegal Jade Miners
Date of publication: 17 October 2014
Description/subject: "NRGI recently commissioned images by a Myanmar photographer, Minzayar, who has documented the lives of the illegal jade miners flowing into Kachin state in the north of Myanmar as they pursue higher incomes...ade mining, both legal and illegal, is an apt lens through which to view the very complex environment in Myanmar, and the political economy of extractives in particular. It reveals the numerous governance challenges and failures that have prompted efforts at reforming the sector since the opening of the country a short time ago. Given its high value and its abundance in Myanmar, jade has been a significant source of revenue for the country’s government; according to official statistics jade exports amounted to more than $1 billion in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. However, reports suggest that the state budget might actually be missing potentially huge sums from jade mining. A Harvard Kennedy School report from 2013 even argued that government jade revenue should possibly be much higher than that from oil and gas, with at least 50 percent of jade revenues escaping taxation..."
Author/creator: Matthieu Salomon
Language: English
Source/publisher: Natural Resource Goverance Institute (NRGI)
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 December 2014


Title: Army Orders 1,000 Villagers to Leave, As Tensions Rise Near Hpakant
Date of publication: 15 October 2014
Description/subject: "The Burma Army has ordered more than 1,000 Kachin villagers to leave three villages near the jade mining town of Hpakant, Kachin State, warning civilians that there be could fighting between the army and Kachin rebels soon, local sources said on Wednesday. Residents of the villages of Kanzihall, Aung Bar Lay and Tang Kaw, located about 16 km (about 10 miles) from Hpakant, were told by Light Infantry Division 66 to leave their homes by Tuesday 6 pm, according to Hla San, a National League for Democracy (NLD) member based in Hpakant town..."
Author/creator: Lawi WAeng, May Kha
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 21 December 2014


Title: Mining resumes in jade-rich area of Kachin State
Date of publication: 07 October 2014
Description/subject: "After a two-year suspension due to armed conflict in the area, jade mining has resumed in Kachin State’s Phakhant Township, but only large companies have re-entered the areas, local residents say..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Eleven"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 21 December 2014


Title: Nyaunglebin Situation Update: Kyauk Kyi Township, July 2012
Date of publication: 05 September 2012
Description/subject: This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in July 2012 by a community member describing events occurring in Nyaunglebin District, during July 2012. It describes the Norwegian government's plans for a development project in Kheh Der village tract, which is to support the villagers with their livelihood needs. In addition, the legislator of Kyauk Kyi Township, U Nyan Shwe, reported that he was going to undertake a stone-mining development project in the township, which led the Burmese government to order a company, U Paing, to go and test the stone in Maw Day village on July 1st, 2012. U Paing had left the area by the 8th of July due to safety concerns after a landmine explosion occurred in the near vicinity. Also described are villagers' fears to do with such projects, particularly in regards to environmental damage that could result from mining.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html, pdf (263K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/KHRG-2012-09-05-Nyaunglebin_Situation_Update_Kyauk_Kyi_Township_...
http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg12b74.pdf
Date of entry/update: 05 November 2012


Title: Blood Jade - Burmese Gemstones and the Beijing Games
Date of publication: 04 August 2008
Description/subject: "...Burmese jadeite is a global business predicated on human suffering and the absence of the rule of law, and is controlled with an iron grip by Burma’s military regime. The regime led by Senior General Than Shwe grew in notoriety in September 2007 when it violently suppressed peaceful protests led by Buddhist clergy in Burma. The regime’s status as an international pariah was further cemented when it obstructed humanitarian aid to 2.4 million people affected by Nargis, a class four cyclone that hit the Irrawaddy delta region on May 3, 2008, killing 150,000. Burma’s regime has effectively consolidated military control over the entire gems industry, including jadeite, by eliminating small and independent companies from mining and forcing all sales to go through national auctions held by official government ministries in Rangoon. Gems are now Burma’s third largest export and provide the regime with an important source of foreign currency1. Much of this cash comes from China, which has recently seen a dramatic rise in demand for Burmese jadeite due to its overall economic growth. On March 27, 2007, the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) announced that the design for the medals of the Beijing Games included jade from China’s Qinghai province2. BOCOG has publicly stated that their officially licensed products are being made with Qinghai jade (or nephrite), not jadeite from Burma. However, many if not most of the jade products on the general market are from the abuse-ridden jadeite industry in Burma and profit Burma’s brutal military regime. The showcasing of jade on the world stage will further escalate the growth in demand3. Jadeite production comes at significant costs to the human rights and environmental security of the people living in Kachin state. Land confiscation and forced relocation are commonplace and improper mining practices lead to frequent landslides, floods, and other environmental damage. Conditions in the mines are deplorable, with frequent accidents and base wages less than US$1 per day. An environment of impunity and violence has been created by the military regime and its corporate partners, who inflict beatings on and even kill locals who are caught collecting stones cast off as trash by the mining companies. Mining company bosses and local authorities are complicit in a thriving local trade in drugs, which – when coupled with a substantial sex industry – has led to a generalized HIV/AIDS epidemic that has spilled over the border into China. While Burmese jadeite is only one part of China’s vast economic relationship to Burma’s military rulers, it is an industry on which individuals can have a direct and substantial impact, if they make conscientious decisions not to buy what can justifiably be called “blood” jade... The authors of this report call on individuals – global consumers, visitors to China, Olympic spectators, and Olympic athletes – to boycott the sale of Burma’s blood jade. The Beijing Organizing Committee of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) and the government of the People’s Republic of China should take immediate action to curb the global trade in blood jade, beginning by ending their promotion of jade products from Burma..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: 8808 For Burma & All Kachin Students and Youth Union
Format/size: pdf (1.2MB - OBL version; 1.5MB - original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.kdng.org/images/stories/publication/BloodJade.pdf
Date of entry/update: 04 July 2010


Title: Burma’s Gem Trade and Human Rights Abuses
Date of publication: July 2008
Description/subject: Burma’s Gem Trade and Human Rights Abuses Updated July 2008 Burma produces a variety of gems but is most famous for its rubies and jade. The vast majority of high-quality rubies on the world market originate from Burma. Burmese rubies are renowned for their dark “pigeon’s blood” color, which makes them more valuable than rubies produced elsewhere. According to industry estimates, Burma accounts for more than 90 percent of the global trade by value. Burma also dominates as the top producer of jadeite, the most expensive form of jade. Burma is especially well known for “imperial jade,” a gem-quality jade that is valued highly for its deep green hue. In addition, Burma produces and exports a variety of other precious and semi-precious stones, including sapphires and spinel. The color and quality of gems from Burma make them attractive for use in jewelry sold around the world, but the beauty of Burmese gems is marred by their association with serious human rights abuses. A growing number of governments, ethically-minded businesses, and civil society groups are working to curtail the international trade in Burmese gems through targeted sanctions and boycott campaigns. There are signs that these efforts are having an effect.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Watch
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 07 August 2008


Title: Mineralientatlas - Mogok
Date of publication: 07 December 2007
Description/subject: Arten, Geschichte, Geologie von Mineralien in Mogok (Sagaing Division);types, history, geology of minerals in Mogok (Sagaing Division)
Language: German, Deutsch
Source/publisher: Mineralienatlas-Lexikon
Date of entry/update: 10 May 2008


Title: Rot wie Blut - Edelsteine aus Burma finanzieren diktatorisches Regime
Date of publication: November 2007
Description/subject: Burma verfügt über das weltweit größte Vorkommen von Rubinen. Unter unmenschlichen Bedingungen abgebaut, fließen die Erlöse direkt in die Taschen des diktatorischen Regimes, egal ob offiziell exportiert oder illegal gehandelt. Boykott von Rubinen; Kimberley-Prozess; Boykott of Rubins, Kimberley-Process
Author/creator: Jolien Schure
Language: German, Deutsch
Source/publisher: Fatal Transactions - Eine europäische Kampagne zur Rohstoffgerechtigkeit
Format/size: pdf (402.75 KB)
Date of entry/update: 09 June 2010


Title: Burmas Minderheiten leiden unter Raubbau an Edelsteinen und Gold - Kritik am Schweigen deutscher Juweliere
Date of publication: 15 October 2007
Description/subject: Allein der Handel mit Rubinen und anderen Edelsteinen habe der staatlichen Firma "Myanmar Gems Enterprise" nach offiziellen Angaben zwischen April 2006 und März 2007 Einnahmen in Höhe von 297 Millionen US-Dollars verschafft. Dreimal im Jahr lade Myanmar ausländische Händler zu Edelstein-Auktionen ein. Bei der letzten Versteigerung im März 2007 seien Steine im Wert von 185 Millionen US-Dollars umgesetzt worden. Damit sei die Ausfuhr von Edelsteinen neben dem Handel mit Teak-Holz sowie mit Erdöl und Erdgas, der bedeutendste Devisenbringer des Landes. Gemstones
Language: German, Deutsch
Source/publisher: Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker
Date of entry/update: 03 May 2008


Title: Capitalizing on Conflict: How Logging and Mining Contribute to Environmental Destruction in Burma.
Date of publication: October 2003
Description/subject: "'Capitalizing on Conflict' presents information illustrating how trade in timber, gems, and gold is financing violent conflict, including widespread and gross human rights abuses, in Burma. Although trade in these “conflict goods” accounts for a small percentage of the total global trade, it severely compromises human security and undermines socio-economic development, not only in Burma, but throughout the region. Ironically, cease-fire agreements signed between the late 1980s and early 1990s have dramatically expanded the area where businesses operate. While many observers have have drawn attention to the political ramifications of these ceasefires, little attention has been focused on the economic ramifications. These ceasefires, used strategically by the military regime to end fighting in some areas and foment intra-ethnic conflict in others and weaken the unity of opposition groups, have had a net effect of increasing violence in some areas. Capitalizing on Conflict focuses on two zones where logging and mining are both widespread and the damage from these activities is severe... Both case studies highlight the dilemmas cease-fire arrangements often pose for the local communities, which frequently find themselves caught between powerful and conflicting military and business interests. The information provides insights into the conditions that compel local communities to participate in the unsustainable exploitation of their own local resources, even though they know they are destroying the very ecosystems they depend upon to maintain their way of life. The other alternative — to stand aside and let outsiders do it and then be left with nothing — is equally unpalatable..." Table of Contents: Map of Burma; Map of Logging and Mining Areas; Executive Summary; Recommendations; Part I: Context; General Background on Cease-fires; Conflict Trade and Burma; Part II: Logging Case Study; Background on the Conflict; Shwe Gin Township (Pegu Division); Papun Districut (Karen State); Reported Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts; Part III: Mining Case Study; Background on the Conflict; Mogok (Mandalay Division); Shwe Gin Township (Pegu Division); Reported Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts; Conclusion.
Author/creator: Ken MacLean
Language: English
Source/publisher: EarthRights International (ERI), Karen Environnmental & Social Action Network (KESAN)
Format/size: pdf (939K)
Date of entry/update: 07 November 2003


Title: Life: Between Hell and the Stone of Heaven
Date of publication: 11 November 2001
Description/subject: "More than a million miners desperately excavate the bedrock of a remote valley hidden in the shadows of the Himalayas. They are in search of just one thing - jadeite, the most valuable gemstone in the world. But with wages paid in pure heroin and HIV rampant, the miners are paying an even higher price. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark travel to the death camps of Burma...Hpakant is Burma's black heart, drawing hundreds of thousands of people in with false hopes and pumping them out again, infected and broken. Thousands never leave the mines, but those who make it back to their communities take with them their addiction and a disease provincial doctors are not equipped to diagnose or treat. The UN and WHO have now declared the pits a disaster zone, but the military regime still refuses to let any international aid in..." jade
Author/creator: Adrian Levy & Cathy Scott-Clark
Language: English
Source/publisher: The Observer (London)
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003