There are more than 5000 blocks across the nation and the permits for most are set to expire, he said.
The Myanma Gems Enterprise under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation has been issuing a list of expiring blocks since April 2016.
The permits set to expire are for blocks in gemstone tracts in Hpakant, Lone Khin, Mogok, Hkamti, Nant Yar Seik, Mine Shu and Maw Lu-Maw Han.
Extensions of permits for the blocks will not be allowed and the authorities will consider granting permits for new blocks in accordance with the law after the Gemstone Rules are in place, U Thet Khaing said.
He added that, currently, the Gemstone Law is already in place and the first gemstone policy will be ready soon but there is still no Gemstone Rule.
The Gemstone law has been received poorly by governance experts and civil rights groups for not specifying how to tackle companies which bypass the size restrictions, for example, by applying small or medium-scale licences next to each other and addressing the conflict of interest in state-owned Myanmar Gems Enterprise (MGE), which is critical to the sector’s reform.
The draft of Gems Policy includes provisions to prioritise environmental conservation rather than the economical profit gained from gems and jade extraction; extraction of gems, which belong to every citizen, with limitations for sustainable and generational use; and to create a fair market with equal economical opportunities for every stakeholder in the gems sector.
It also hoped that the policy creates responsible gems businesses that support the sustainable development of the country and its citizens and bring about transparent and responsible management methods.
“The policy is intended to decrease the loss of resource and push for conservation of the environment. This will then help to preserve resources so they can be maintained for future generations as well,” said U Min Min Oo, permanent Secretary of the Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.
The draft policy also includes aspects such as observation and declaration of gems extraction, to create responsible gems extraction and production, and businesses that prioritise reducing as much damage as possible to the environment and communities.
The policy proposes drawing up and implementing the Environment Management Plan (EMP) to ensure minimum impact of gem mining on the environment, requiring environmental impact assessments (EIA), and reclamation plan in accordance with the National Environmental Policy’s Environmental Conservation Rules and Regulations.
It is hoped that all this will help to alleviate the effects of jade and gems mining.
Phakant Township MP U Tint Soe, says he welcomes better regulations and policies as there have been cases of illegal mining using heavy machinery in abandoned sites near his township.