Are Rubies the New Blood Diamonds? Inside a Burmese Mining Region

  • Share
  • Read Later
Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Ruby and jade are on display at the Archit Fabric and Gem shop in the Bogyoke Aung San market, March 3, 2007, in Yangon, Burma.

New footage released by Al Jazeera finds that children as young as four are being exploited in the production of Burma’s famously fiery rubies. The network reports that the tots are put to work cracking rocks with crude mallets in mines controlled by the country’s military government in a hunt for the shimmering stones that are unlike any others in their color and clarity.

Al Jazeera filmed in secret in the well-known mining region of Mogok, an area off-limits to foreigners and whose pits yield 90% of the world’s rubies. According to the video, diggers earn less than a dollar a day for their contributions to the massive industry. The U.S. and E.U. have embargoed Burmese rubies and jade since 2008. But despite sanctions, Al Jazeera estimates that the state pulled in a record $1.67 billion last year. (via Al Jazeera)

(More on See why Zimbabwe’s new diamonds imperil global trade.)