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July 03, 2020

Enforcing safety, rule of law in jade mining is essential

Jade mining in Phakant, Kachin State, has been part of the life of migrant workers searching for lesser quality jade stones discarded by large mining companies for more than two decades.
When miners began using heavy machinery to extract jade from mines in Myanmar in 2005, migrant workers across the country flocked to the area to scavenge for small jade stones from discarded soil.
While migrant workers have been working illegally risking their lives, in spite of the presence of job opportunities in Phakant, lethal landslides strike regularly.
Over 100 scavengers have been lost in a landslide in November, 2015, and over 50 employees from a mining company died in a landslide in April, 2019.
The preventable disasters strike the jade land killing migrant workers regularly. Not only deadly landslides, the drug use and general lawlessness pervades Hpakant destroying countless lives.
The tragedies have highlighted the role of responsibility for safety lies with the jade mining industry.
That’s why, a task force with 14 members was formed by the Union Government on 4 October, in 2018 and tasked with 14 goals. Six sub-working groups were formed under the task force on the same day. Out of 16 decisions made at previous meetings focusing safety and the rule of law in the jade land, 13 have been implemented and the remaining need to take time.
As part of efforts for ensuring the safety of migrant miners, the sub-working groups are carrying out drug rehabilitation, socio-economy of families of migrant workers and local people, conservation of environment destroyed by the mining.
The works on safety and the rule of law in Phakant will take speed up when the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation adopts a by-law for the new gem stone law.
Environmental destruction and deadly accidents in Phakant are preventable. the new gemstone law and its by-law along cannot address all problems in our mining sector. The participation of migrant miners, local people, and businessmen is critical to maintaining peace and the rule of law in the area.
Every person has the right to go to work with the expectation they will return home safe to their families when the working day is done.

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