Sa­gaing firms de­cry gem thieves

The Myanmar Times - - Business - THAN NAING SOE thannaing­soe@mm­times.com

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

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