During the past three years, Myanmar has earned US$1.3 billion from the exportation of jade stone which accounted for over one fifth of the nation’s total exports, according to a statement made by the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development.
Export earnings during the fiscal year of 2011-2012 was US$ 34.2 million, US$ 297.9 million in 2012-2013 and US$ 1 billion in 2013-2014, showing an immense growth of over 2,800% since June of 2011 and making Myanmar the largest exporter of Jade in the world.
The Jadeite deposits in Myanmar’s northern regions are considered by those in the gem industry to be of the finest quality in the world. The desire for Burmese jade can be traced as far back as 13th century China and today, it is estimated that over 70% of high quality Jade originates from the country.
The Southeast Asian nation’s primary markets for jade exports are China, Hong Kong, the Middle East and India. Japan and is also an increasingly important market for Burmese jade. As Myanmar eases restrictions on foreign investment, several of these countries have already begun to seek opportunities in the country’s gem mining industry.
One large foreign player is China Polymetallic Mining (HK: 2133), a Hong Kong listed mining group and the largest extractor of lead and zinc in China. They now have a team of prospectors searching for mineral deposits in Myanmar in order to make future investments.
Myanmar’s export earnings from raw minerals in general have reached US$ 71 million according to the Ministry of Commerce. Besides Jade, large untouched reserves of gold, tungsten and copper are located in the country. However, the lack of development in rural areas and the fact that many deposits are in war-torn regions of Myanmar makes extraction difficult for both local and foreign investors.