By David Lewis, Ryan McNeill, Zandi Shabalala | Reuters
NAIROBI, (Reuters) – Billions of dollars’ worth of gold is being
smuggled out of Africa every year through the United Arab Emirates in
the Middle East – a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and
beyond – a Reuters analysis has found.
data shows that the UAE imported $15.1 billion worth of gold from
Africa in 2016, more than any other country and up from $1.3 billion in
2006. The total weight was 446 tonnes, in varying degrees of purity – up
from 67 tonnes in 2006.
Much of the gold was not recorded in the
exports of African states. Five trade economists interviewed by Reuters
said this indicates large amounts of gold are leaving Africa with no
taxes being paid to the states that produce them.
reports and studies have highlighted the black-market trade in gold
mined by people, including children, who have no ties to big business,
and dig or pan for it with little official oversight. No-one can put an
exact figure on the total value that is leaving Africa. But the Reuters
analysis gives an estimate of the scale.
Reuters assessed the
volume of the illicit trade by comparing total imports into the UAE with
the exports declared by African states. Industrial mining firms in
Africa told Reuters they did not send their gold to the UAE – indicating
that its gold imports from Africa come from other, informal sources.
methods of gold production, known in the industry as “artisanal” or
small-scale mining, are growing globally. They have provided a
livelihood to millions of Africans and help some make more money than
they could dream of from traditional trades. But the methods leak
chemicals into rocks, soil and rivers. And African governments such as
Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia complain that gold is now being illegally
produced and smuggled out of their countries on a vast scale, sometimes
by criminal operations, and often at a high human and environmental
Artisanal mining began as small-time ventures. But the
“romantic” era of individual mining has given way to “large-scale and
dangerous” operations run by foreign-controlled criminal syndicates,
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo told a mining conference in February.
Ghana is Africa’s second-largest gold producer.
Not everyone in the chain is breaking the law. Miners, some of them working legally, typically sell the gold to middlemen. The middlemen either fly the gold out directly or trade it across Africa’s porous borders, obscuring its origins before couriers carry it out of the continent, often in hand luggage…Full Story