Informal gold miners work with spades and pickaxes in the moon-like environment of Northern Sudan, extracting their bounty from small pits that pockmark the terrain.
The initial stage of an illegal network that has developed in the last 18 months following the pandemic induced surge in the gold price is mining ore in the searing heat of the Nubian desert. Desperate for income, African governments are looking to Dubai for assistance in halting trafficking.
According to the Organisation’s point of view for economic cooperation and development, Smuggling schemes spanning at least nine nations and involving tonnes of gold whisked across borders have been revealed in interviews with government officials across Africa. That’s the reason for international concern because money laundered from Africa’s unlawful mineral trade fuels violence, finances criminal and terrorist networks, undermines democracy, and facilities money laundering.
However, it’s unpredictable to predict how much loss smugglers bear each year. According to the data of 2020 display a difference of at least $4 billion between the United Arab Emirates’ declared gold imports from Africa and what African nation’s say they exported to the UAE.
Allegations that it isn’t doing enough to stop problematic gold flows have resulted in public slanging matches with London, which hosts the world’s largest gold market, and Switzerland, the world’s top refiner.
According to two people who have direct knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because they aren’t allowed to speak publicly about it, Deputy US Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo discussed concerns about gold smuggling with Emirati officials during a visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in mid-November.
According to government and industry officials, UN experts, and civil rights organisations, most of Africa’s unlawfully mined gold is funnelled to Dubai through refineries in Uganda and Rwanda or is carried there directly in hand luggage, frequently with bogus papers.
They claim that they can melt it down further to disguise the source before being converted into jewellery, electronics, or gold bars once there.
According to Adegbite, “Most European countries will ask you about the certificate of export of origin country, and if in case you don’t have that, the gold is seized and returned to sources.”
Gold smuggling is an age-old profession, but it became much more lucrative in August 2020, when the price of bullion hit a new high of $2,075 per ounce.