Miners in Myanmar Find Massive Jade Boulder Worth $170M

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In the remote reaches of Southeast Asia in Kachin State, nestled within Myanmar’s rugged northern landscape, a remarkable discovery was made. According to Forbes.com, in 2016 miners unearthed a massive jade boulder of extraordinary magnitude, tipping the scales at an astounding 192 U.S. tons.

The giant jade boulder valued at $170M (image: BBC.com)

The Jade boulders dimensions—18 feet in length and width, standing 14 feet tall—is even larger than many homes in the area. This colossal find, valued at an impressive $170 million, is among the largest jade deposits ever encountered on a global scale, making this Jade boulder the second largest to ever be discovered. The largest being a 260 ton jade boulder that was used to carve a statue of Buddha in China.

The journey of this monumental boulder, soon to be transported to China, underscores the deep cultural and economic ties that bind the jade industry across borders. Revered as the “stone of heaven,” jade holds a place of honor in Chinese tradition and aesthetics, symbolizing purity, moral integrity, and beauty.

This massive jade boulder will be sent to China (image: BBC.com)

The anticipation surrounding its transformation into art pieces and jewelry highlights the enduring allure of jade, transcending mere material value to embody the rich tapestry of cultural heritage and artistic endeavor.

Myanmar stands at the forefront of the jade trade, contributing significantly to the nation’s economy and asserting its dominance in the global market.

The jade industry is responsible for nearly half of Myanmar’s GDP. (credit: (image: BBC.com)

With approximately 70% of the world’s high-quality gem jadeite originating from its mines, Myanmar’s role is pivotal. Jadeite and nephrite, the two primary types of jade, each possess unique qualities and hues, ranging from the iconic green to the less commonly known white, red, black, and lavender variations.

The distinction between jadeite and nephrite, while subtle, underscores the complexity and diversity of jade as a gemstone, with jadeite being particularly prized for its vibrancy and translucence.

The transformative journey of jade, from its unassuming raw form to the polished elegance of the finished product, mirrors the transformative impact of such discoveries on local and global scales. Yet, the jade industry is not without its challenges.

The sector is marred by issues of corruption, exploitation, and environmental degradation, with the benefits often accruing to only a select few, leaving behind the communities whose lands harbor these precious resources. The stark contrast between the industry’s economic contributions and its socio-environmental implications presents a compelling narrative of resource extraction in the modern era.

This discovery not only highlights the geological marvels lying beneath our feet but also prompts a reflection on the intricate relationships between natural resources, cultural values, and economic dynamics.

As this jade giant begins its journey from the mines of Kachin to the workshops of China, it carries with it stories of human ambition, the allure of the natural world, and the complex interplay of factors that continue to shape our engagement with the earth’s hidden treasures.

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