MAC: Mines and Communities

Burma Update

Published by MAC on 2006-12-06

Burma Update

6th December 2006

There's surely a compelling case that the marketing of jade and other gems from Burma constitutes a violation of the precepts which lie behind the Kimberley Process applied to diamonds. In this update, we include a Xinhua article, based on a news item that appeared in the New Light of Myanmar (BLM) a fortnight ago.

In the NLM article, the junta leader, Thein Sein, is quoted as emphasising the "lucrative" benefits of the gem industry, pointing out that jade is now surpassing the market in gems as a bread winner for the regime and others involved in the mining and marketing sides of the precious metals industry.

Burma is the only nation that produces high quality jade in Asia. The government will give priority to nationals who are themselves engaged in the gems industries and put their capital into the business in accord with one of the four economic objectives. There will be scrutiny of whether the capital is based on "illegal" earnings, and supervision of mining, transport and sale of gems and jade is to be "in line with rules and regulations of the Myanma Gems Enterprise."

The need to develop the "value-added" side of Burma's jade and gems industry is a much-talked-about, little-implemented theme in news stories now coming out of the country.

The South Korean company, Daewoo, is the operator of the developing gas fields project in Burmese waters in the Bay of Bengal off the Arakan coast. It is also the lead player in a South Korean consortium to buy out Ivanhoe's interest in the Monywa copper mine.

Now, it's being accused of illegally exporting "strategic" goods and technology to the Burma military which could be employed in manfuacturing arms.

[Thanks to Eric Snider for providing information to this commentary]

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