22 December 2021
Another fatal jade mine landslide in Myanmar
It is reported that yet another landslide affected the Hpakant area of Myanmar this morning. Whilst the picture is a little sketchy at the moment, the indications are that a jade mine landslide occurred at about 4 am. Indications are that between 70 and 100 people were swept into a lake. One body has been recovered and 25 people have been injured.
WION/AFP has the only image of the aftermath that I can find at the moment – unfortunately it doesn’t tell us a great deal:
Over the years I have repeatedly written about the terrible history of jade mine landslides in the Hpkant area of Kachin State. In 2018 I produced a timeline of reported events, whilst last year another landslide killed at least 175 miners at Wai Khar mine at Sate Mu. At the weekend there was yet another landslide, with at least six people, and possibly as many as ten people, killed.
Much has been written about the causes of these dreadful events, but this is an area in which the landscape is being pillaged by large scale mining activities. The level of regulation is negligible, and the area is riven with dangerous slopes of both mine waste and bedrock. On top of this, the dire economic conditions in Myanmar have meant that a large number of people scavenge on the waste piles, trying to find jade to sell. They often mine at night, increasing the danger. Very often the collapse of the waste piles bury these people, or sweep them into the flooded pit bottom. Sometimes displacement waves from collapsing waste piles catch the miners by surprise.
All of this is avoidable with proper regulation, but there is little or no prospect of change in Myanmar.
It is estimated that 70-90% of the jade produced in the world comes from Myanmar. Jade is a beautiful rock, but please don’t ever buy jade from Myanmar.