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The world renound ruby mines at Mogok, Burma

The sapphire mines at Bang Kacha, Chanthaburi, Thailand.

Gem mining at Pailin, Cambodia.

Sapphire mining at Bo Ploi, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Ruby mining at Bo Rai, Trat, Thailand.

The marble village of Sagyin, Shan State, Burma.

Gem Mining in Mogok

There are reported to be over 1000 gem mining operations in Mogok, some legal and some illegal. The legal operations work in partnership with the government whilst the illegal operations are clandestine. There are some large scale joint ventures between the government and Chinese companies.

People have been mining for gems in Mogok for many hundreds of years. The Mogok Stone Tract has produced many of the world's finest coloured gems. Despite the reports in the Western media I found no evidence of mistreatment, no slave labour, no forced drug taking/addiction or any of the other tales pedalled the western press. There are approximately half a million people living in Mogok and virtually every person I came across is involved in the gem trade in one way or another. Many of the individuals and small enterprises make their living from dealing in Mogok's gems.

A majority of the people working at the mines are from the villages which surround Mogok.

 

 

 

Bawpadan, Mogok

Ruby mine at Bawpadan, Mogok

A ruby mine at Bawpadan.

Ruby mine at Bawpadan, Mogok

The mines are tunnelled into the marble hills.

An old truck at Bawpadan, Mogok

Trucks like this are fairly common sight in Mogok.

Ruby miners at Bawpadan, Mogok

Miners in a ruby mine at Bawpadan.

 

Dynamite used in ruby mining at Bawpadan, Mogok

Dynamite is used a lot in Mogok to blast through

the marble rock.

 

 

 

Ah-Sein-Taw

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two miners taking a break.

 

Two miners taking a break from ruby mining at Ah-Sein-Taw, Mogok

 

A pulsating jig at the entrance to a ruby mine

 

 

 

 

A pulsating jig at the entrance to a ruby mine. the miners bring barrows of soil from the mine to be washed at the jig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miners in the mine next to sacks of soil waiting to be loaded onto the barrow.

Miners in the mine next to sacks of soil

 

Dynamite stacks like this are a common sight in Mogok

 

 

 

 

Dynamite stacks like this are a common sight in Mogok. It is also not unusual to see people smoking close by. This pile here would cause one hell of an explosion if it were to be ignited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washing the soil from the mine.

Washing the soil from the mine.

 

Washing the gravel by hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washing the gravel by hand so even the smallest rubies don't slip away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drinking tea with the manager of a ruby mine at Ah-Sein-Taw.

Drinking tea with the manager of a ruby mine at Ah-Sein-Taw.

 

 

 

Kadoketat

Mining concessions at Kadoketat

 

 

 

There are many mining concessions which were given to ethnic groups as part of peace settlements with the Burmese government. Each plot is fenced off and worked on by ex-insurgent groups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each of these mining concessions are self supporting organisations.

Mining concessions at Kadoketat

 

Mining concessions at Kadoketat

 

 

 

 

There are eight shafts at this concession, all being worked. This is the top of shaft 5. The on-site geologist inspects each shaft and instructs the miners in which direction they should dig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 'customised' truck transporting marble boulders for processing.

A 'customised' truck transporting marble boulders for processing.

 

Workers constructing pulsating jigs to process the production from the 8 shafts.

 

 

 

 

 

Workers constructing pulsating jigs to process the production from the 8 shafts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workers smashing open the marble boulders to retrieve the rubies from inside.

Workers smashing open the marble boulders to retrieve the rubies from inside.

 

 

 

 

The Peridot Mines at Pyaung Gaung

peridot mine shaft at Pyaung Gaung

 

 

 

 

Miners taking a break at the top of the peridot mine shaft at Pyaung Gaung.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking down the shaft of a peridot mine at Pyaung Gaung. This is a more traditional style of mining in Mogok which the locals call Labin.

peridot mine shaft at Pyaung Gaung

 

miners at the peridot mines at Pyaung Gaung

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moments after these two miners arrived at the surface there were two explosions which shook the ground beneath my feet. This made me wonder just how big an explosion there would be if one of the piles of sticks of dynamite were to go up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More dynamite.

dynamite at a peridot mine at Pyaung Gaung

 

 

 

 

**********

 

 

 

Mogok - Valley of Rubies & Sapphires by Ted Themelis Gems & Mines of Mogok by Ted Themelis

References obtained from the above books. Both these titles are thoroughly recommended reading and can be ordered directly (subject to availability) from www.themelis.com

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