Miners Find Massive Jade Boulder Worth $170M

Miners recently unearthed a giant jade bolder in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, also known as Burma. The jade stone weighs 192 U.S. tons, one of the largest piece of jade found in the world. It measures 18 feet long by 18 feet wide by 14 feet high and was found in a remote mine located in Kachin State in the northern territory of the country.

Experts believe the jade stone to be worth an incredible $170 million based on its massive size and quality. U Tint Soe, a local politician, said the jade stone was the size of two small houses put together. The stone is headed to China, one of Myanmar’s nearby neighbors and the largest importer of Myanmar’s jade. The stone already has a nickname in China, which translates to “stone of heaven.” It will be carved into likely thousands of pieces from jewelry to sculptures.

Approximately 70% of the world’s gem quality jadeite, one of the minerals that are commonly referred to as jade, comes from Myanmar. In fact, half of the country’s GDP comes from jade exports and sustains a large portion of the country’s economy.

Most people think jade is just one type of vibrant green gemstone, but there are in fact two similar yet different gems that are both called jade. These two types of rocks are jadeite and nephrite, both metamorphic rocks with almost indistinguishable visual differences. The stone found above is believed to be jadeite, which is the most common form found in Myanmar and typically of higher quality compared to nephrite.

You’ll notice the massive stone above looks rather dull compared to typical jade you see at a jeweler. Uncut and unpolished jade only has a slight dark green hue but otherwise appears rather dull. Once cut and polished, this jade stone will truly show its magnificence.

Unfortunately, this impressive new find is shadowed by recent reports on corruption in Myanmar surrounding its jade business. Jade mining is frequently used as a front for financing military elites, drug lords and those in control. Meanwhile, the general population never sees a cent of revenue from the lucrative mining industry. You can read more in this excellent report by Global Witnesson the jade industry in Myanmar and the corruption surrounding it.

source: forbes.com by Trevor Nace

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