Jade Fever

They shot gun beer, ride ATVs, have cook-outs…and oh yes, mine million dollar chunks of jade. They’re the people of Jade City.

Jade City is literally in the middle of nowhere— ve hours from Whitehorse, 24 from Vancouver—a remote highway stop in northern British Columbia. There are no government of ces. No police station. No hospital. No one tells this tight-knit community of 35 eclectic individuals what to do. And what they mostly do is dig for Jade.

Claudia Bunce pretty much runs Jade City, along with her husband Robin. She’s a 5 foot tall dynamo. He’s her long-suffering husband. Along with their Chinese-Canadian partner Alan Qiao, and with help from their hot-headed teenage son Josh, they mine a few, big jade claims here. And this year, things are getting serious.

The demand for jade has jumped tenfold over the past decade, fueled by an insatiable demand in China. With 75 percent of the world’s nephrite jade in BC, Beijing billionaires are ocking to Claudia and Robin’s front door—each new investor expecting the locals to dig up the next $10 million boulder. It’s a jade rush with serious money…if only the Bunces can put their beers on ice.

They aren’t making any promises to their new partners. Claudia tells them upfront, “it’s like walking into a casino and throwing a million dollars down and saying ‘I can win this hand’.”

High risk, high reward.

This season, the Jade City miners have their hands full working two claims. At their Dynasty site, drillers are poking holes in the ground hoping to hit an elusive lens of high-grade jade. But no one
can agree on where to look…and the drill budget is running out. Then, a serious accident shakes everyone. Meanwhile their Wolverine claim is still an untouched alpine meadow. Getting equipment there means a 120km overland trek, moving heavy equipment up a mountain. Just keeping the equipment running is a major challenge. Then there are the new Chinese investors. They have a way of showing up to check on things and ruf ing the feathers of the crew. Robin wants to punch someone out. Alan suggests a Buddhist ceremony to chase away the bad luck. Just another day in the Cassiar jade elds of northern BC.

It’s also tough working with family. 20-year-old son Josh is eager to work the dozers and excavators but father Robin has a hard time reining in Josh’s rebellious streak. Wise-cracking excavator operator Guy Marital just rolls his eyes and keeps digging while Alan tries to keep the peace…and the miners mining. As the season wears on, both sites look a little thin on jade. Will they be able to nd enough before the season ends…and their Chinese investors bail?