Myanmar’s lucrative mining sector is due to issue new gem permits from the Ministry of Mining at 1 million kyat ($1,167) per gem mine block, Mizzima, a Myanmar online news portal, has reported.
Known as the “Golden Land,” Myanmar plays host to large deposits of rare gems and minerals, including sapphires, rubies and jade. Yet while many sanctions placed on the former pariah regime were eased or lifted in 2012, the US has left restrictions on importing rubies and jade from Myanmar intact.
The removal of sanctions “does not affect the existing prohibitions and restrictions on the importation of jadeite and rubies mined or extracted from [Myanmar], and on articles of jewelry containing them,” said a US State Department release issued November 2012.
“We are committed to working with the Government of Burma to address these concerns,” it said.
The permits for new gem mines in Mogoke, Mineshu and Nanyar state will be issued in accordance with the Myanmar gems law, according to a statement issued by the ministry on February 11.
A deep concern of already active mine operators, permits for old jade mine blocks that expired during January, February and May will be renewed.
According to recent amendments to the new Myanmar foreign investment law, there is no longer a minimum capital requirement for investments, except in mining ventures, which require substantial proof of capital and must be documented through a domestic bank.
Another important clarification in the investment law is the dropping of foreign ownership restrictions in joint ventures, except in restricted sectors, such as mining, where they will be capped at 80 per cent.
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Justin Calderon is a research analyst for Inside Investor based in Manila, Philippines. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Newsweek (Japan), CNN Travel, GlobalPost, Global Times and The Nation (Bangkok). Living in and out of Asia since 2006, Justin spent two years in Shanghai working for a popular B2B magazine. He also hunkered himself down in Taipei for two years to teach English and study traditional Chinese characters. He is a Mandarin and Thai reader and speaker.
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