Myanmar leader Lieutenant-General Thein Sein has stressed the need to develop finished gem industry to pave way for exporting value-added products.
Thein Sein, first secretary of the State Peace and Development Council, made the remarks here Monday, the official newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported Tuesday.
Thein Sein, who is also chairman of the Leading Committee for Development of Myanmar Gems Industries, said the export of value- added gem products rather than raw material will earn more foreign exchange.
"Earnings from the sale of jade, gems and pearl at present are more than those of the past with the emergence of jade markets in neighboring countries where jade is in great demand," he said.
"Myanmar is the only nation that produces high quality jade in Asia region," said the Myanmar leader.
According to the state-run Myanmar Gems Enterprise, the government will grant 215 more mining blocks for local investors in 2007 to promote gems and jade production.
Of the new mining blocks allotted, 77 are in Shan state and 39 in Mandalay division for gem mining, while 99 near Lonekin in Kachin state are for jade mining. Each block measures one acre (0. 405 hectare) and the blocks are to be leased on a three-year term.
Value-added market in Myanmar has made good progress over the past three years with the country exporting one ton of value-added jade products to Germany in October, said the report, adding that Myanmar is planning to export more amount of value-added jade products to Spain in December.
In December last year, Myanmar introduced some 370 mining blocks for jade exploration in Phakant and Lonkin in northernmost Kachin state and biddings for the blocks were also invited from the private companies.
There are six mining areas in Myanmar under gem exploration, namely, Mogok, Mongshu, Lonkin/Phakant, Khamhti, Moenyin and Namyar.
To earn foreign exchange, Myanmar started to hold gem shows in 1964, sponsoring annual and mid-year ones, adding special jade and gem sale since 2004. Since then the country has earned a total of over 600 million dollars from all such events, attended by foreign gem traders mostly coming from China, China's Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan.
Myanmar, a well-known producer of jades and gems in the world, possesses such gems as ruby, diamond, cat's eye, emerald, topaz, pearl, sapphire, coral and a variety of garnet tinged with yellow.
To develop gem mining industry, Myanmar enacted the New Gemstone Law in 1995, allowing national entrepreneurs to mine, produce, transport and sell finished gemstone and manufactured jewelry at home and abroad.
Since 2000, the government has started mining of gems and jade in joint venture with 10 private companies under profit sharing basis.