The supposed 37-ton slab of jade recently discovered in Hpakant, Kachin State, is nothing but a rock, according to Aung Naing, the Kachin State minister of mines.
Minister Aung Naing told DVB on Tuesday that a study has shown that the slab that appeared to be jade – making headlines after a small-time excavator discovered it on 9 February – was not what it seemed.
“We tried to move the rock and it cracked. Even before that we had presumed, based on an initial study by experts, that it was not jade,” said Aung Naing, adding that it is a common habit in the gem industry to claim stones to be precious and later be proven wrong.
“It cracked because it’s not jade – just an ordinary rock.”
The assertion comes despite the efforts of the Burmese army to cordon off and secure the district in response to the discovery.
The Burmese army reportedly detained the discoverer of the stone, Aung Naing Win, on the grounds of “his own safety” and blocked local independent miners from work in the area.
Hpakant locals said small-time mining operations have resumed as authorities have lost interest in the stone. The status of Aung Naing Win, however, is still unknown.
The regional mining minister said officials are now preparing to put the boulder on public display to prove that it has no value.
“We would like to prevent rumours – as there has been some media build-up – we want to show that it was not a precious rock from the beginning and that we did not swap it.”
Locals in Hpakant have said it is still too early to conclude the rock has no value.
The Ministry of Mines officially banned mining operations at Hpakant in 2012, though small-scale manual excavations continue.