Hpakant in Myanmar’s northern Kachin State holds the world’s most valuable jade deposits. However, our investigations reveal that the government system for allocating and managing jade mines is fraught with corruption, allowing a powerful elite to cream off most of the profits. Little, if any, of the vast sums generated are spent on the infrastructure, health and education that the people of Kachin State and Myanmar as a whole deserve.
    With the possibility of both a new government and a peace agreement with the KIA/KIO around the corner, licensed companies are ramping up their mining operations, using massive machines to extract all the jade they can now, in case a change in the political climate leaves them out in the cold.

    Chinese government import data for 2014 indicates that the category of gemstone imports from Myanmar that covers – and overwhelmingly comprises – jade was worth US$12.3 billion.3 This is an astonishing sum. However, as explained below, numerous industry sources have told Global Witness that 50%-80% of jade is smuggled straight over the Myanmar-China border (see next page for map of smuggling routes used). Chinese customs data supports these claims, showing that less than a third of Myanmar’s official jade production entered China legally, even though China is where almost all Myanmar’s jade ends up.4 This suggests that the US$12.3 billion figure, huge though it is, significantly underestimates the true value of Myanmar’s jade production. Read more …