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The Globe and Mail

In pictures: Myanmar's perilous and profitable jade trade

The military, ethic rebels, China and smugglers are all involved in the notorious jade-mining region in the northwest part of the country

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Handpickers search for jade through rubble dumped by mining companies at a jade mine in Hpakant township in Myanmar. It is perilous work, with landslides routinely swallowing 10 or 20 men at a time.

MINZAYAR/REUTERS

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A worker waters jade stones at Myanmar's 2011 Mid-Year Emporium for jade, gems and pearls at a hall in the capital Naypyitaw. The stones sold there are a small percentage of the country’s production with the rest being smuggled.

SOE ZEYA TUN/REUTERS

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People trade at a jade market in Mandalay. Myanmar produced more than 43 million kilograms of jade in fiscal year 2011-12 (April to March).

SOE ZEYA TUN/REUTERS

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Traders inspect jade on so-called “jade tables” in a tea shop in Lone Khin village, Hpakant township. Chinese traders dominate the Myanmar jade market.

MINZAYAR/REUTERS

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Middlemen and jade handpickers gather at a house to smoke opium. Many jade handpickers use heroin, while others rely on opium or alcohol.

MINZAYAR/REUTERS

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A handpicker washes himself after searching for jade through rubble. Soldiers that guard the big mining companies sometimes shoot in the air to scare off the small-time prospectors.

MINZAYAR/REUTERS

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Too Aung, a 30-year-old handpicker, shows the unwashed jade that he just found in a jade mine in Hpakant township. A report says sales of Burmese jade totalled about $8-billion in 2011.

MINZAYAR/REUTERS

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Handpickers search for jade through rubble dumped by mining companies at a jade mine in Hpakant township. Jade is smuggled by truck to China by so-called ‘jockeys’ through territory belonging to either the Burmese military or the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), both of whom extract tolls.

MINZAYAR/REUTERS

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