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Curbing illegal gold mining and trading is challenging

Monday, March 9, 2020


Illegal gold mining and trading


Governments of several African nations have noted that gold is becoming a vehicle of vast, cross-border criminal operations. Gold’s fungibility has always made it a liquid, undetectable form of payment, but the growth in illegal mining and trading can be attributed to a confluence of factors. These include weak state control in parts of Africa, a global network of traders specialising in sanctions evasion, Chinese operators entering the sector and gold’s low-weight and high value making it an attractive mineral to smuggle, and relatively hard to trace.


  • Gold bar forgeries are sophisticated, and the usage of fake bars is likely to continue to rise, facilitating more criminal activities.
  • West African or Sudanese gold will find its way to global markets, no matter how it was mined.
  • Gold will continue to be trafficked from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, aided by foreign trading networks.
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