Illegal gold trade is a growing problem in the global economy, and it has significant implications for both the environment and the public. This illicit trade involves the illegal mining, smuggling, and sale of gold, which often leads to serious human rights violations and environmental degradation. A lot of people in Africa, including children are using small-scale methods to extract gold. Although millions of people were earning a living through small-scale production methods the governments of Zambia, Ghana and Tanzania complaint about the gold black market.
The gold trade has been a critical aspect of the global economy for centuries, and the demand for gold continues to rise. However, the growth in demand has also led to an increase in illegal gold trade, which is often done in violation of environmental and labor laws. The illegal trade is particularly rampant in developing and underdeveloped countries, especially in Africa, where weak governance structures and limited regulation of the mining industry lead to the growth of the black market for gold. In these countries, the extraction and sale of illegal gold are often done in secret, making it difficult to monitor and control the trade. It also makes it impossible for the governments to tax this gold production and therefore barrs the governments from benefiting from this market – tax money that otherwise could be spent on the national infrastructure such as roads, railways, school systems, police etc.
One of the major consequences of illegal gold trade is environmental degradation. The illegal gold mines are often located in remote and fragile ecosystems, and the extraction process often involves the use of toxic chemicals and hazardous waste. The chemicals and waste are often dumped into the surrounding environment, contaminating water sources and damaging wildlife habitats.
Additionally, the mines often lack proper waste management systems, which further exacerbates the environmental impact. One example would be the illegal gold mining in Brazil which led to the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest. Brazilian mining lobby even released a statement addressing the country’s foreign ministry to work with other governments to develop policies and strategies with the purpose of combatting the illegal gold trade. The statement made by the President of Ibram Trade Association, Mr Raul Jungmann said: “The trade of illegal gold feeds a criminal alliance in Brazil, which is responsible for part of the devastation we see in the Amazonian rainforest, something the world is watching.” The unregulated gold mining under the former President Jair Bolsonaro has dramatically increased, which in turn led to the destruction of the rainforest and led to the pollution of the rivers. Thus, stopping illegal gold trade is extremely important to protect the environment.
Illegal gold trade also leads to serious human rights violations, including child labor, exploitation, and abuse of workers. The workers in illegal gold mines are often subjected to long hours, dangerous working conditions, and low wages. Moreover, they often have limited access to healthcare, education, and other basic necessities, which further exacerbates their plight.
Children are also often used as cheap labor in illegal gold mines, and they are subjected to hazardous working conditions that put their health and well-being at risk.
To combat illegal gold trade, governments and international organizations need to work together to improve governance and regulation of the mining industry. This involves strengthening environmental and labor laws, increasing enforcement and penalties for those who engage in illegal activities, and improving the monitoring and control of the trade. Additionally, the international community must work to improve transparency in the gold trade, making it easier to track the origin and flow of gold from mine to the customer.
To conclude, illegal gold trade is a growing problem that has serious implications for both the environment and people. It is essential to take action to combat this illicit trade, including improving governance and regulation, increasing enforcement and penalties, and improving transparency in the gold trade. By taking these steps, we can help protect the environment, improve working conditions, and promote sustainable development in the global economy.