Jade Hunters of China

Join China’s jade hunters as they gamble their lives on finding precious stones hidden high up in the Kunlun Mountains

Produced by NHNZ

High up in Western China’s Kunlun Mountains veins of precious jade, ranging from dark green to an opaque white colour, run through the thick, hard rock. To the local people of the villages at the base of the mountains, discovering a slab of jade would be like hitting the jackpot!

This is why every year during the summer, teams of men set off on a gruelling journey thousands of feet up into the mountains, to endure some very dangerous conditions. They literally gamble their lives on the chance of unearthing a chunk of jade.

But there’s no guarantee they will find any jade at all. It’s a matter of trial and error as the men use basic tools to drill and blast the rock with little in the way of safety protection, until they hit a vein or until the harsh winter months roll in and it’s time for them to abandon their mines.

Changeable weather, thin air and unstable mountain-sides are just some of the factors which make the trip so inhospitable and treacherous. The men rely purely on experience and luck. If they are fortunate they will be granted with instant wealth, if they are unlucky all the money invested in their risky trip will be lost.

Jade Hunters of China joins three groups of men who decide to take the gamble and are lured up the mountain in the hope of making a lucrative discovery. It experiences the hardship of the trip and the frustration of set-backs, while witnessing the slow and methodical process of finding the precious stone.

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