A controversial new gemstone law fails to address the hazards of an industry in which scores of workers die each year
At one of the jade mining pits that scar the mountains of northern Myanmar’s Kachin state, a miner recalls how five of his friends died during a landslide two years ago. “I was so scared,” he says. While working in areas where there have been previous landslides, he says he has discovered dead bodies and buried them.
Testimonies heard by the Guardian reveal a deadly environment where lethal landslides and equipment failures strike regularly, in an industry with a history of human rights abuses, corruption and environmental destruction. “At first it was so scary for me,” says another worker. “But it’s becoming natural … We started accepting that we could die in any situation.”