The Myanma Gems Enterprise raked in nearly MMK 60 billion, or USD 40.1 million, at its week-long jade and gems emporium in Nay Pyi Taw.
The annual week-long event allows jade and gem dealers to examine and bid for nearly 4000 lots. This year, more than 2000 prospective buyers attended, and nearly 3500 jade lots were sold, along with nine of the more valuable gem lots. The highest-priced jade lot began at MMK 100 million, and the most valuable gem lot began at MMK 180 million.
Jade and precious stones have been and continue to be one of Myanmar’s staple industries, accounting for USD 10-12 billion per year. According to an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative report: “The world’s most valuable rubies are from Myanmar, consistently breaking world records at international auctions. Myanmar is also the world’s largest source of high quality jade and is conveniently located next to China, the world’s largest market for jade – a stone so highly prized in China that its value continues to soar and regularly fetch higher prices per ounce than gold.”
However, the industry has seen intense criticism for widespread corruption and cronyism. The jade industry in particular has come under fire from human rights groups for the treatment of miners and scavengers in the country’s north, who are often underpaid, abused and supplied amphetamines to help them work longer hours.