Photo: Courtesy of Frik Els
You can call it small-scale mining or artisanal mining.You can call it the black market or just plain smuggling.
But however you call it, the non-regulated mining industry is huge business – especially when it comes to gold.
For instance, in the Philippines as much as 95% of gold produced is now smuggled out, thanks in no small part to the duty imposed by the government on official sales.
In Ghana, locals fight running gun battles with Chinese nationals who have driven artisanal miners from their plots.
In South Africa one company has banned food underground to starve out the many miners not on their payroll who live down tunnels – sometime for months at a time – working the same gold veins.
However you look at it tonnes of gold bullion are finding buyers outside official channels, which explain these pictures that landed in MINING.com’s inbox.
On offer was “perennial supply of gold ore” from Africa purportedly of “superior quality” but with no purity rating for $42,000 per kilogram – way below the ruling price.
What do you think about this deal? Or is all that glisters not gold? (Our readers are sceptical.)