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Bishop calls for jade mine regulations in Myanmar

Mandalay (UCAN): Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myitkyina, Myamar, called for an urgent improvement of jade mining regulations and protect the environment. He said there are no proper regulations or systems for properly managing soil dumps that have killed hundreds of people annually in conflict-stricken Kachin State.
At least 27 people are missing or feared dead following the collapse of a slag heap at a jade mine in Kachin State on July 24. It was the second deadly mining disaster in 10 days after at least 22 were killed, 63 injured and four left missing in a July 14 landslide.
“We must respect human dignity as small-scale miners come for opportunities by risking their lives,” Bishop Tang said.
He said local authorities need to give warnings to miners about hazards, especially in the rainy season, while the government and companies need to consider the environmental effects of jade mining.
“The concerned parties—the government, companies and civil society—need to discuss openly and draw a framework for proper regulations, practices for managing soil dumps and saving the environment,” Bishop Tang said.
The bishop, who visited the jade mining region of Hpakant last December, warned that if stakeholders failed to fix this important issue, more lives would be lost and the environment ruined.
Environmental issues, drugs, human trafficking and internally displaced persons will be on the agenda at a meeting of the dioceses of Myitkyina, Banmaw and Lashio in August or September.
“After the meeting, we will release details of the Church’s stance,” Bishop Tang said.
Myanmar’s civilian government faces the daunting task of managing resources, which includes dealing with firms that have close ties with the military.
Bishop Tang asserted that the military, which remains a key player in Myanmar’s politics, needs to compromise with other stakeholders to carry out resource sharing.
“All stakeholders need to negotiate for the sake of all people and benefits for the development of the people,” he said.
Myanmar’s worst jade mine accident occurred when a landslide killed 110 migrant workers on 21 November 2015.
A fight for natural resources such as jade, timber has aggravated decades of ethnic conflict in the country’s northern borderlands. 
Myanmar produced $243 billion (US$31 billion) worth of jade in 2014, about 50 per cent of the nation’s declared gross domestic product, according to a Global Witness report.
Most of the jade is sold on China’s black market, while almost all the revenue goes into the pockets of the military elite, the report said.

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