DRC gold smugglers told UN experts that gold from South Kivu went to the UAE, via Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania. Once the gold reached Dubai, customs authorities and buyers ‘did not ask questions’ about its origin.
Artisanal gold exports from eastern Congo-Kinshasa have been high for some time, but no formal figures are available because nearly all production is unrecorded and informal. Between 10 and 15 tonnes of gold a year – worth around US$830 million – has been a typical estimate. The UN’s Group of Experts on Democratic Republic of Congo (GoE) suggests in its latest report that the real figure may be much higher. It estimates that gold-refining capacity in the Great Lakes region is 337.6 tonnes per year. The refineries are not operating at full capacity but even if they were only working at 25% of capacity, that would still mean 85 tonnes of gold is being mined a year, six times the current estimate.
Credit: Sankara Media