Extraordinary Images Of The Hottest Country In The World For Untapped Natural Resources

myanmar jade

Photo: AP Photo/Khin Maung Win

The hottest emerging economy for resources is Myanmar. It’s been a previously ultra-closed society that’s now starting to open up.

As Myanmar opens up its economy and western countries lift their sanctions on the country, companies have been flocking there to tap into its resources.

The country is rich in energy, precious stones like jade and rubies, teak, copper, and biomass like charcoal to name a few.

Myanmar reportedly has 11–23 trillion cubic feet in natural gas reserves and 50 million barrels of crude oil reserves. They recently auctioned 18 oil and natural gas blocks.

We put together a photo tour of some of its resources. In the case of energy, since many of its oil and gas fields haven’t been developed, we put together satellite images of some of its fields.

Myanmar accounts for 80 per cent of global teak. Teak is a kind of wood that is extremely popular in Asia and is used to make furniture and boats.

A young Burmese boy labels teak logs marked for export.

But the government is banning exports of commodity teak starting in 2014. However, it does want to boost its exports of finished teak goods.

Source: The Irrawaddy

Myanmar is rich in precious stones like jade, and prices have skyrocketed because of Chinese demand.

In the 2010 - 2011 fiscal year jade export revenues reached over $1.75 billion, a fifth of Myanmar's overall exports. The U.S. banned imports of Burmese jade in 2008.

Source: Bloomberg

Myanmar is also rich in one of the most precious stones, the blood red ruby. Gems, especially rubies, used to be the third largest source of revenue for the military regime.

The country's Mogok region provides 90 per cent of the world's ruby supply, and the entire region is off limits to outsiders.

Al Jazeera secretly filmed Myanmar's ruby industry. Miners often take over property belonging to local farmers and start digging for blood rubies. The farmers can't stop them and get no compensation, once rubies are found the state confiscates the land.

Source: Al Jazeera English

Children as young as four and the elderly often work on government-controlled mines for about $1.50 a day.

The rubies mined from the region often end up in government emporiums or are smuggled into Thailand and then sent to the west.

Source: Al Jazeera English / CNN

Copper is another major Burmese resource. Seen here is the Letpadaung mine, Monywa town, northwestern Myanmar.

A Buddhist shrine, seen at the bottom right of the image, is scheduled to be torn down for the expansion of the Letpadaung mine.

Source: AP

Monks are seen walking around in Letpadaung mine.

Monks and villagers have defied government orders and occupy the land. The government came under tremendous scrutiny after its violent crackdown on protestors.

Source: AP / The Irrawaddy

Agriculture employs most of Myanmar's 64 million people and accounts for 36 per cent of GDP.

Myanmar used to be the world's biggest rice exporter between 1960 - 1963 but lost that position during five decades of military dictatorship.

Source: Bloomberg

Its rice exports are expected to increase to 3 million metric tons by 2017, from 1.5 million tons in the year ending 2013.

Source: Bloomberg

Two-thirds of Myanmar's energy comes from biomass like fuel-wood, charcoal etc.

Lack of development and investment has meant that Myanmar has one of the lowest per capita electricity consumption rates in Asia.

Source: ADB

Myanmar is expected to produce 3.3 million tonnes of charcoal between 2012 and 2016.

Source: Eleven Myanmar

Myanmar is said to have between 11–23 trillion cubic feet in natural gas reserves. Shown here is French energy giant Total, which operates the Yadana field, the first offshore project in Myanmar.

The field was discovered in 1980 and is said to contain over 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The field is 37 miles offshore and is 4,300 feet beneath the seabed. Production began in 2000 and the field has a life of 30 years.

Approximate location based on information from Total.

Source: Total / EIA

Gas is Myanmar's biggest export with most of it going to Thailand. The Yetagun gas field shown here was the second offshore project and is operated by Petronas.

Production began in May 2000, and the Yetagun gas field is said to contain reserves of 3.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Source: South East Asian Affairs / Reuters

It reportedly has 50 million barrels of crude oil reserves and it has slowly been auctioning oil and gas blocks to bring in foreign investment.

Shown here is the Rakhine offshore area which includes 14 demarcated deep water blocks. In December, Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd agreed to acquire a 50 per cent stake in the A-6 block in the Rakhine Basin.

Source: MOGE / Dow Jones / EIA

International companies are wary of investing because they have to partner up with state-owned companies like Myanma Oil And Gas Enterprise (MOGE)

Shown here is the Shwe offshore oil and gas field that is expected to become a major player in Myanmar's energy sector. It is said to have somewhere between 4.794--8.632 trillion cubic feet of gas. Daewoo has a 60 per cent stake in the project.

Source: MOGE

MOGE is said to have close ties with the former military regime and which is associated with controversial pipelines being built from Burma to China.

The Thargyitaung/Sabe oil and gas field shown here was discovered in 2001 and is still producing.

Source: MOGE

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