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Blood Gem?

Bangkok Post reportedBurma to hold special gem auction

(Agencies) – Burma is to hold a special gem sale in Rangoon starting on July 4 to boost foreign exchange earnings, the Central Committee for Sponsoring the Special Sale of Gems, Jade and Pearls announced

Domestic gem traders are being urged to display their quality gems, jade and pearls at the special show scheduled for July 4. The foreign exchange proceeds from the sale will be designated as legal export earning, the sponsor said.

It will be held as a “competitive bidding system,” presumably meaning auction.

The country’s special gem sale for both foreign and local gem merchants is the third of its kind introduced four years ago in addition to the annual and mid-year ones.

During the last special gem sale held in June, 2006, nearly 1,500 foreign and local gem traders bid on the available jade, gemstones and pearls.

At the 13-day, 44th annual gems emporium held last March, 3,652 lots of jade, gems and pearl were sold out of nearly 6,000 such lots displayed. They gained a record high 148 million euros ($185 million).

That emporium was attended by 3,421 merchants, 2,000 of them foreign. The foreigners came mostly from China, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Thailand.

Burma began its gem shows in 1964. The mid-year one was first held in 1992 and the special one was introduced three years ago.

Burma, a well-known world producer, is the source of nine gems – ruby, diamond, cat’s eye, emerald, topaz, pearl, sapphire, coral and a variety of garnet tinged with yellow.

To develop the gem mining industry, Burma enacted the New Gemstone Law in 1995, allowing national entrepreneurs to mine, produce, transport and sell finished gemstone and manufactured jewellery at home and abroad.

Since 2000, the Burmese government has become involved in the mining of gems and jade in joint ventures with 10 private companies under a profit-sharing basis.

The military regime will grant 319 new more unexplored jade mining blocks in Kachin state’s Moenyin and Sagaing division’s Khamhti to local entrepreneurs to encourage jade production, according to reports earlier this year.

There are six mining areas in Burma under gem and jade exploration: Mogok, Mongshu, Lonkin/Phakant, Khamhti, Moenyin and Namyar.

Jade sales represent one of Burma’s major foreign exchange sources, the fourth largest export earning sector in the fiscal year 2005-06 with $205.47 million, according to state statistics.

Of the top 10 exporters for 2006-07, dominated by the state sector, the Myanmar Gems Enterprise was third with sales of $296.9 million. Only Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise and the Myanmar Timber Enterprise sold more.

The government’s Central Statisitcal Organisation reported that in fiscal year 2005-06, Burma produced 20,390 tons of jade and 28.458 million carats of gems, including ruby, sapphire, spinel and peridot, as well as 177,692 mommis of pearl. The production in the first half of 2006-07 (April-March) went to 10,388 tons from jade, 10.042 million carats for various gems and 56,607 mommis for pearl.

Burma also is working to establish the first ever gem merchants’ association as part of its bid to enhance the development of the country’s gem mining industry.

The Burmese mining sector, which also includes other minerals such as gold and copper, contributes 0.4 per cent to the national economy.

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