ULAN-UDE, February 17 (Itar-Tass) —— Customs officers in Russia’s Transbaikalia stopped another attempt of illegal export of jade from Russia to China.
"Nearly 14 kilograms of semi-precious stone were found in a bag, which belonged to a locomotive driver, who was en route to China via the Zabaikalsk border railway crossing station," press service of Chita’s customs control said on Friday.
"Railroader denied that he had the goods subject to mandatory declaration. And claimed that he had found the stone in the street and was taking it to China ostensibly to determine what it was," Chita customs’ public relations officer Marina Boyko said.
Ten days earlier, customs officers found 70 kilograms of the valuable mineral during the customs control procedures as they were checking another Russian diesel locomotive at the border with China. The hiding place was in cold mines of the locomotive. Then, the driver and his assistant admitted they tried to take this semi-precious stone to China without declaring it. They face serious administrative responsibility.
In 2011, the Transbaikalia customs prevented illegal export of over 26 tonnes of jade to China. However, until recently, most attempts to smuggle it were made at the Zabaikalsk vehicle border crossing station.
The three leading suppliers of jade to the international markets are located in Buryatia, which neighbours Transbaikalia. There, the annual production is of over 270 tonnes of jade. The region has more than 90 percent of jade reserves in the Russian Federation, including the most valuable white jade. All extracted raw materials are exported to jewellery factories in China. The actual sale price of the stone in China ranges from 60 to one thousand dollars per a kilogram depending on the quality. In China, jade has mystical and even curative qualities, for which it is called "green gold". Export from Russia is permitted under license only.