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Myanmar's dangerous but lucrative jade business thrives

Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 01:17

Myanmar miners continue to risk their lives despite a deadly landslide in search of precious jade stones. Julie Noce reports.

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A truckload of debris from a jade mine is poured onto a dumping site in the northern Kachin Sate of Myanmar. Hundreds of workers standing on the mountain of soil rush forward to search for pieces of jade that might have been missed. (SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) 22-YEAR-OLD MAN FROM RAKHINE STATE, THEIN TUN, FROM SAYING: "We have nothing to do in my hometown. But here, we can be rich just by getting a piece of precious stone. That's why many people come here with big ambitions." The work is dangerous and accidents are common. Last weekend, a mound of mining debris collapsed on top of a makeshift settlement of migrants at it's base who were asleep at the time. Some 114 people were killed, at least 100 more are still missing. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who's National League for Democracy just swept to a parliamentary victory, said on Thursday that this accident reflected a lack of consideration for the safety of people's lives. Reforming the sector, however, will be difficult as the industry is dominated by companies linked to leaders of the previous military government. The value of jade production in Myanmar is estimated around $31 billion in 2014, according to the advocacy group Global Witness.

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Myanmar's dangerous but lucrative jade business thrives

Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 01:17