Billions-worth African gold trafficked into the US, Europe, and the UAE: Report


Billions-worth African gold trafficked into the US, Europe, and the UAE: Report

According to a study published on Thursday, there has been a noticeable rise in the smuggling of hundreds of tonnes of gold valued at tens of billions of dollars out of Africa during the last ten years, primarily to the United Arab Emirates.

According to an analysis done by the development aid and advocacy group Swissaid, 435 tons of gold, largely from small-scale miners, were smuggled out of Africa in 2022 for a total estimated value of about $30 billion.

Billions-worth African gold

According to Swissaid, the main recipient of 405 tons of illicit gold from Africa in 2022 was the United Arab Emirates. The group claims that almost 2,500 tonnes of gold that was taken illegally and valued at more than $115 billion were accepted by the UAE during the preceding ten years.

The size of the flow highlights how artisanal, or small-scale, mining has grown into a massive industry employing millions of people and producing quantities of gold comparable to or greater than those of industrial mining.

According to a 2019 Reuters investigation, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was used as a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States, and other countries for the smuggling of billions of dollars’ worth of gold out of Africa annually.

Smuggling of this scale raises the possibility of a large parallel criminal economy that is vulnerable to money laundering, financing of terrorism, and sanctions evasion in addition to the loss of tax revenues, governments and scholars have warned.

According to Marc Ummel, the commodities lead at Swissaid and one of the report’s authors, the UAE facilitates the legalization of large amounts of illegal gold by allowing it to travel through the nation.

Swissaid compared the total gold imports into non-African countries with the total gold exports from all African countries in order to do a study. By comparing the data with figures provided by trade associations and holding meetings with governments and refineries, the organization was able to identify errors. Additionally, it provided country-specific statistics to remedy gaps in UN Comtrade data.

There are no such distinctions between declared imports and declared exports in Switzerland or India, the other two major countries that import large amounts of African gold.

The Swissaid study found that 12 African countries were involved in the smuggling of at least 20 tons per year.

Due to the double increase in gold prices since 2009, more people are becoming involved in artisanal mining. Estimates from Swissaid indicate that artisanal and small-scale gold mining in African countries produced between 443 and 596 tons of gold in 2022.
More than 70 percent of this sum is unreported.

On the other hand, industrial miners have produced about 500 tons of gold annually.

The majority of the yearly import of African gold into the United Arab Emirates is reportedly the result of artisanal and small-scale informal mining. These methods provide a living for millions of Africans, but sometimes at the expense of the environment and local inhabitants.

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