Verité’s report, The Nexus of Illegal Gold Mining and Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains, starkly highlights how illegal gold mining throughout Latin America is tied to human trafficking, which will be of interest to the wide variety of companies and retailers that sell products containing gold. The report draws from field research in Peru and Colombia as well as extensive desk research and analysis of global gold flows.
Verité research has found that the diminishing supply and increasing demand for gold, combined with criminal and armed groups’ quest for new sources of illicit revenue, have contributed to a surge in illegal extraction of gold from increasingly remote and lawless regions. In Latin America, and elsewhere in the world, illegally mined gold is strongly linked to human trafficking and other labor abuses. It is also closely associated with child labor, severe threats to workers’ health and safety, and sex trafficking.
Illegally mined gold is “laundered” and exported, with the help of corrupt government officials, to prominent refineries, which supply some of the biggest central banks, jewelry companies, and electronics producers in the world. A Verité analysis of Dodd-Frank Act compliance records found that approximately 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies that filed conflict mineral reports listing the smelters and refineries from which they obtained their gold in 2015 reported sourcing gold from refineries that have demonstrated a pattern of purchasing illegally mined gold from Latin America. Companies that source illegally produced gold face severe reputational and legal risks including potential liability under a number of statutes covering company complicity in trafficking in persons, forced and child labor, organized crime, corruption, and conflict minerals.
Combatting illegal gold mining and the human and labor rights abuses that accompany it requires a coordinated, multi-pronged approach by the governments of gold producing countries, as well as the countries and companies that import gold. Verité’s report provides recommendations for how companies and governments can ensure that illegally mined gold does not make its way into central banks and global supply chains, and ultimately into the hands of consumers in the form of jewelry, gold bullion, and electronics. In the coming months, Verité will publish a white paper covering these recommendations in greater detail.
For more information contact Quinn Kepes.