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Is Google a Friend of Jade?

I am frequently using Google Earth (http://earth.google.com) with its detailed satellite views to prepare visits to jade deposits or to review and document the descriptions of the sites.

Quite recently Google Earth has uploaded, for numerous non-US places in the world, satellite images with much higher resolution. On these images you can distinguish now objects of the size of a car or a small truck.

Out of curiosity I zoomed into the area east of Lake Baikal where the white jade deposits of the Vitim Highlands, the Burom, Kevekte and Golyube sites are located. (See also my FOJ contribution “The White Jade from the Vitim Mountains in Eastern Siberia”)

To my surprise, in a sea of low resolution images, the Burom and the Kevekte sites are now covered by high resolution imagery and I have quickly assembled the additional details of jade extraction now visible.

Thanks Google!





A special Google FOJ attention or the greyish, high resolution insert of images covering the upper Kevekte and Burom River valleys as now available on Google Earth.


Previous Google satellite imagery of the Kevekte site from a view altitude of 36343 feet as shown in my 2005 FOJ contribution “ The White Jade from the Vitim Mountains in Eastern Siberia” with the arrows pointing to mining activities.

Newly uploaded Google satellite image of the Kevekte site from the same view height now showing much more details when zooming in.


High resolution view of the main Kevekte site, with the housing area (H), the mining areas 1, 2 and 3 and the remote area (EX) either being a helipad or the storage area for explosives.


The Kevekte mining area 1 with the ditches dug into the Dolomitic marble seams containing the white nephrite jade bands and associated piles of inert material. The area is about 150x150m in size. Small boxes are earth moving machinery and trucks and their shadows.


The Kevekte site 2 with a single trench dug toward a jade seam.


The Kevekte site 3 with overburden clearing and only little trenching.


The Kevekte jade mining housing site at the banks of the Kevekte River flowing south and along which tracks caused by heavy lorries or vehicles running with tank tracks are noted and Jade material is probably transported to Taksimo on the BAM. The house with the white “tail” near the top of the image could be the jade slabbing facility with the associated discharge of debris and whitish diamond saw cutting water.


The cleared area, about 500m from the housing site, with two buildings for possibly storing the explosives for the Kevekte Jade mining operation.

Next to the activities close to the main Kevekte mining site, results of some ground clearing and trenching activities can be noted together with some additional houses about 3.5Km to the north west to which also a road has been cleared though the forests.


Additional site, northwest to the main Kevekte site, showing ground clearing 1, 2 and housing/barracks (H).


The Burom Jade extraction site about 26Km northeast of the Kevekte site showing also three areas with ground digging activities and one area for housing.

This site seem however not be as active as the Kevekte site which run by Korean owners/interests.


The Burom site 1 with trenching activities.


Burom site 2 with exploratory (?) trenching.


Burom site 3 with trenching and extraction activities.


The rather small Burom housing area.

Next to these “thanks Google” pictures also another jade site, the river bed of the Yurungkax or White Jade River between Hotan and the first crests of the Kun-Lun mountains in China, is also now covered with high resolution imagery.


The general area of the Hotan (Khotan) oasis (the dark blotch in image center) and the selected high resolution images (clearer squares) now available.


The Yurungkax River between the Kun-Lun and Hotan covered now with high resolution images.


The Yurungkax River, the paved road leading to the Kun-Luns and the leftover piles of mechanically reworked and shifted river gravel after trying to find the precious white jade pebbles. The location is marked with a circle on the picture above.


The telltale signs of shifting through the Yurungkax River gravel to find precious jade.

As I will be visiting the Yurungkax area soon, I hope to inspect these sites and bring you ground view pictures and further details.

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Reader Comments (1)

Dear Herbert!
Those detailed images showing jade collecting activity at Hotan and elsewhere are fascinating. Can I persuade you to please post coordinates so the rest of us can have a look? The coordinates on your images are too small to read.
Alan White
August 17, 2006 | Registered CommenterAlan White

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