Sagaing firms decry gem thieves
GEM and jade mining firms in Sagaing Region say that individual “scavengers” operating illegally on the companies’ plots are cutting into profits and making it hard to pay workers.
U Tun Lin Shein is managing director of gem exploration firm Myauk Kyun Thu Ma Ma, which is operating in Hkamti township’s Nan Si Pon jade mining area. He says there are thousands of individuals scouring for gems in the area.
“It means companies don’t get the jade from their areas,” he told The Myanmar Times. “It makes things much more difficult and we don’t get enough profit to pay our employees.”
Representatives from several gem and jade firms said there are eight companies with more 5000 employees between them exploring 85 plots in the Nan Si Pon area. Individual searchers have been operating in the area since May, and despite complaints to the government things have gotten so bad that firms have had to suspend some operations, they said.
“[Gem searchers] operating in groups have broken down our fences,” said U Myint Pe from Yadanar Sein Gahar company. “They also make threats that unless we open up areas to them they will destroy other things. Security guards have been hit by stones and CCTV cameras smashed.”
U Tun Wai, the Hkamti assistant director for the government’s directorate of jade mining, said the searchers are violating Myanmar law by engaging in gem mining without permission. But catching perpetrators is tricky, he added.
“There isn’t the manpower to take action against them while they are digging,” he said. “They are far from the control of [government] administration teams.”
Hkamti district administer U Zaw Zaw said one issue is that local villages are not registered on a Ministry of Home Affairs list that allows police to open a patrol camp. – Translation by Win Thaw Tar
and San Lay