HONG KONG — A landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar has killed at least 12 people, and dozens more might have been buried by the collapsed hillside, an official said on Tuesday.
The landslide in Kachin State on Monday night came after heavy rainfall in recent days. Twelve bodies were recovered, but as many as 100 people were feared missing, said U Tin Soe, a member of Myanmar’s lower house of Parliament from the Hpakant area, the center of jade mining in Kachin.
Although many large-scale mining operations had stopped because of the monsoon, individual workers who pick over scrap piles were still laboring in Weikha village outside Hpakant when they were caught in the deluge, Mr. Tin Soe said.
“Hand-pickers were still digging there,” he said. “That is very risky.”
Many informal workers comb the waste piles from mining operations looking for jade that has been left behind. In November, about 120 such miners in the Hpakant area were killed in a landslide that engulfed a village of flimsy shacks and tents.
Some of the world’s highest quality jade is found in Kachin. The green stone is largely sold to China. The trade is poorly regulated and is controlled largely by people associated with Myanmar’s military elite.
Last year, Global Witness, an anticorruption organization, estimated the total value of the country’s jade production at $31 billion in 2014, almost half of its gross domestic product. Most taxes on that income are avoided, and very little of the revenue from the trade is shared by miners or others in Kachin, the group said.