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Shedding Light on Myanmar’s Jade Industry by Building the Open Data: Myanmar Jade Portal

Myanmar is the world’s leading producer of jade, a green hued gemstone that can be worth up to millions of dollars per kilogram. The main market in the world for jade is China, where it has traditionally been highly valued and associated with royalty. Right on China’s southern border is Myanmar’s Kachin state, where the world most valuable jade mines are located. This proximity between the world’s largest source of jade and the biggest market, combined with ongoing conflict, mismanagement, and corruption, has contributed to the rise of a highly lucrative but shadowy industry estimated to be worth billions of dollars annually.

The idea of building a data portal covering the jade industry in Myanmar was born out of the need for data about the industry to be properly aggregated, contextualised, and presented. This would make it readily available to stakeholders and oversight actors such as researchers, civil society organisations, journalists, members of parliament, and the general public.

This project builds on and contributes to a drive towards transparency in Myanmar’s jade sector through initiatives such as the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative), efforts by civil society, and government reforms. Although more data about the country’s jade industry has been released to the public than ever before, the available data is often scattered across various sources, suffers from data quality issues, and requires a significant amount of contextual understanding before it can be made sense of. Thus, emphasis was placed on creating a portal with a suite of features to address the differing data needs of stakeholders depending on their data literacy and prior contextual understanding of the industry.

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