Irresponsible jade extraction has led to extensive human suffering and environmental degradation in Myanmar’s conflict-affected Kachin state. The use of heavy mining equipment, manufactured by companies such as Caterpillar, Komatsu and Volvo Construction Equipment, has enabled extraction to take place at an unprecedented speed. A Swedwatch report finds that the companies rely on insufficient human rights safeguards regarding risks associated with the use of their equipment.
The jade trade is also intimately linked to an ongoing armed conflict which has marred Kachin for almost 60 years.
Since the early 2000s, jade extraction has levelled mountains and deforested vast areas of intact forests in the state of Kachin, Myanmar. The mining comes with severe adverse impacts for local residents; seemingly thousands have lost their access to land and livelihoods, and hundreds allegedly die every year in landslides and flooding caused by negligent jade mining practices. The jade trade is also intimately linked to an ongoing armed conflict which has marred Kachin for almost 60 years.
The level of mining witnessed in Myanmar over recent decades would have been impossible without the use of foreign heavy mining equipment, sold by local distributors, dealerships, or smugglers. Many of the customers are reported to have close links to the Myanmar military – one of the parties in the armed conflict in Kachin – and to the former military junta which repressed the country for decades. But although the problematic jade extraction is enabled by use of machines from companies such as Caterpillar, Komatsu and Volvo Construction Equipment, the three companies are not able to demonstrate adequate awareness of how their products are used, or of the impacts they leave behind....
Companies should step up their efforts and strengthen their adherence to human rights standards in