Wednesday 1 April 2015

Rockslide kills at least nine at Myanmar jade mine.

Nine people have been confirmed dead and about twenty more are thought to still be missing following a rockslide on a spill heap at a jade mine at Hpakant in Kachin State, Myanmar, on Monday 20 March 2015. All the people caught in the landslide are understood to have been handpickers, who independent workers who search for sellable pieces of jade on waste heaps left by larger mining companies operating in the area. Several people are also being treated for injuries at local hospitals. Such incidents are increasingly common around Hpakant, an area where fighting between government forces and rebel groups has displaced around 100 000 people and where there is a high potential to make money by smuggling jade into China.

Spill heap at a large jade mine in Hpakant, Myanmar. Note the steep sides of the heap and the villages that have sprung up around its base. American Geophysical Union Landslide Blog.

Myanmar is the world's largest producer of jade, though much of this is produced (along with other precious and semi-precious minerals such as amber) at unregulated (and often illegal) artisanal mines in the north of the country, from where it is smuggled into neighbouring China. Accidents at such mines are extremely common, due to the more-or-less total absence of any safety precautions at the site. At many sites this is made worse by the unregulated use of explosives to break up rocks, often leading to the weakening of rock faces, which can then collapse without warning.

The approximate location of the Hpakant Jade Mine. Google Maps.

See also...

Two people are known to have died and around 40 more are missing following a landslide at a jade mine at Hpakant in Kachin Province in northern Myanmar on...

Six people have been killed and another four injured in a landslide at an unlicensed jade mine near Hpakant in Kachin State in northeast Myanmar (Burma) on Monday 17 March 2014. The victims were reportedly working...

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