MP plans bill to regulate jade mining in Hpakant

Tun Lin Aung
Myanmar Eleven May 22, 2015 1:00 am #block_media{ position:relative; display:block; clear:both; } #tab_photo,#tab_video{ display:inline-block; width:60px; height:auto; padding:3px; position:absolute; top:-25px; left:500px; text-align:center; background-color:#ccc; color:#000; cursor:pointer; z-index:0; } @-moz-document url-prefix() { #tab_photo,#tab_video{ top:-26px; } } #tab_video{ left:564px; } #block_media .tab_media_active{ background-color:#0c3e6f; color:#fff; } #slides_box,.box-vdo-top{ z-index:600; } Starting the carving process./The Star

Starting the carving process./The Star

Arrow Prev Arrow Next Upper House MP Khat Htein Nan of Myitkyina, No 1 Constituency, in Kachin State plans has proposed a bill to control excavations of jade in Hpakant. He suggested that without control, jade mining in the area is destroying the livelihood of people and the resources would be depleted too soon. Miners have to dig between 400 to 800 feet under the ground to get jade. Mountains become valleys, and much land is spoiled. When the jade is gone in Kachin State, many acres of lands will be ruined. Valleys will become lakes. Villages will have to move.

"I've submitted the issue to the parliament. What I demand is to preserve the land and protect the natural landscape. I've discussed the Uru River in the parliament. Now, the Uru River looks like a creek due to the many excavations by companies. The same will happen with the jade. It will be depleted in the next 25 or 30 years. The chemical structure of jade will degrade and change. There is no natural land in Hpakant," the MP said.

He added that jade should be sold to foreign countries as a secondary product, not as primary raw product."

"[The people of the] Hpakant region should be concerned. Previously, they used backhoes with a capacity of 500 rpm. Now, they have increased to 3500 rpm. Only a systematic process can preserve the resources and the environment, and control the market," the MP said.

Khat Htein Nan had previously proposed a bill related to jade trade in 2012.

The MP said that he discussed with the issue with some other politicians as well as the Forestry Department's environmental preservation committee. He noted that while Myanmar is a major producer of jade, the government or joint venture companies could not find high-valued jades for national exhibitions.

According to the data released by the Ministry of Mines, there are a total of 808 private companies that are allowed to run 15,638 blocks per acre and a total of 222 joint venture companies allowed to run 302 blocks per acre.

The MP said that he discussed with the issue with some other politicians as well as the Forestry Department's environmental preservation committee. He noted that while Myanmar is a major producer of jade, the government or joint venture companies could not find high-valued jades for national exhibitions.

Due to the careless disposal of waste by mining companies into the Uru River and its offshoots, approximately fifty mountains were spoiled and rivers are running dry. Some villages near Hpakant have disappeared due to these threats.

Hpakant and its surrounding villages have been threatened by annual floods in the past ten years.

Geologist Aung Naing Thu from Myitkyina University said: "There are two kinds of jades, known as Nephrite and Jadeite. Jades in Hpakant are Jadeite, which is the world's best. Jade quality does not depend on its lifespan but on the land, temperature and pressure-forming elements. Experts say jade formation will not happen here again. Specific temperature, pressure and elements are needed for the formation of jade. I always tell my students to beware of the resource curse. It is sad that our country does not have a law to preserve the environment. It is sure that jade availability is limited."

Kansi, Lonkhin, Hpakant, Seikmu, Haungpa and Tamakhan areas still have available jade. Private companies and joint venture companies with the government have received mining licences in those areas. The government prohibited jade excavation in 2012 after clashes between the military and the Kachin Independence Army broke out the previous year. The excavation resumed in September 2014.

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