Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters A buyer checks a jade stone. Rumor has it that much of the jade is being smuggled into China, Kachin state, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters A jade mine dump in Kachin state, where miners have been tearing into Myanmar's north hills,, November 25, 2015.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters Acres of forest have been felled, leaving behind craters, barren cliffs, and a web of dirt tracks, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters Scavengers, or "handpickers," scour mountains of loose earth and rubble for nuggets of jade, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters A miner injects heroin. Narcotics addiction is rife among the gem scavengers or "handpickers," Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters Trucks park beside a dumpsite at a jade mine in Kachin state, Myanmar, November 26, 2015.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters Miners search for jade stones at a dumpsite at a jade mine in Kachin state, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters A jade mine in Kachin state, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters A jade mine in Kachin state, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters Two miners inject heroin in Kachin state, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters Using heavy earth-excavators, miners search for jade in Kachin state, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters A miner collects used syringes which miners used to inject heroin, Kachin state, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters A miner in Kachin state, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters Some miners examine a jade stone while another injects himself with heroin, Kachin state, Myanmar, November 29, 2015.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters Miners extracting jade, Kachin state, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters A jade mine in Kachin state, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters A jade mine in Kachin state, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters A buyer checks a jade stone. Rumor has it that much of the jade is being smuggled into China, Kachin state, Myanmar.

Jaded Myanmar

In Myanmar, also known as Burma, the "jade tract" runs through Hpakant Township in the country's northern most state. There, miners scavenge for pieces of the precious green stone—around $31 billion worth of jade was extracted last year, with nearly 40 percent going to China. Jade may be known as "heaven's stone," but it is mined in hellish conditions. The use of explosives and heavy earth-excavators means that there is always the threat of landslides—over 100 miners were killed in an avalanche last year.

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