"New gem bonanza" in Burma jilted by specialistsPublished by MAC on 2004-02-25
"New bonanza" jilted by specialists
SHAN Press Release
25 February 2004
After spending nearly two weeks in October in the mountains where a ruby mine was said to have been discovered, an eight man team of gem specialists from Rangoon finally decided that the rock formations there were still too young to be worthwhile, said gem traders close to the local militia.
"Samples that the experts obtained melted when they were heated, unlike Monghsu stones," one of the gem traders who also occasionally deal in drugs told S.H.A.N..
Loi Hpaleng, "the mountain of red cliff", is located west of the Mongton-Chiangmai highway and became known to the Burmese commanders after a local militia leader, Ja Pikoi, became unusually rich without noticeable dealings in drugs like his peers. On 30 September, the gem specialists arrived under heavy security to investigate.
"The experts, after climbing a few hills, decided to trust their Lahu militia escorts to get the samples for them and just stayed in their camp," a businessman in Fang recounted, "so nobody knows whether Ja Pikoi had refused to show where he had found his stones or whether he had just made good by selling his stones mixed with those from Monghsu. In any case, the terrain there is so rugged it is a real challenge for the get-rich-quick outsiders."
Ja Pikoi, leader of the militia force at Hwe Aw, 21 miles north of the Chiangmai border, has apparently escaped persecution by Rangoon for the unfortunate incident and has been allowed to carry on with his duties. "But the fact is that while his fellow militia chiefs who deal in drugs are facing financial hardships due to suppression in Thailand, he appears to have remain unaffected," observed a local trader.
Apart from Mogok and Monghsu, another rubyland in Panglong in Namtu township, northern Shan State, was reported to have been located. However, the discovery has never been publicized and the place remains off-limits to non-military members, said a Shan ceasefire officer.