From the Sahel to Dubai: on the trail of dirty gold

From the Sahel to Dubai: on the trail of dirty gold

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In the Sahel, the number of informal mines is increasing as gold mining areas escape state control. Mali is gradually establishing itself as the main gold buying center in the Sahel, while Dubai has become the main artisanal producer of the metal. From the understated smelters of Bamako to the gold market of Dubai to the artisanal mines of the Ivory Coast, Caroline Dumay investigates the transformation of the global gold industry.

The United Arab Emirates is being singled out for turning a blind eye to the origin of the gold bullion entering its territory. In response, international institutions such as the OECD are calling for tougher industry regulations. The gold boom in the Sahel regions is attracting more and more interest from armed groups, including jihadists.

This investigation, carried out for more than a year in several African countries, began with the arrest of Franco-Malagasy ‘mules’ at the Johannesburg airport in December 2020 carrying 73 kilograms of gold in their luggage. The author of this documentary then sought to understand who this gold belonged to.

Reporting by Caroline Dumay in collaboration with Stefan Carstens, Graham Walsh and Damien Koffi, as well as Walid Ag Menani and Anne-Fleur Lespiaut, who took exclusive images of the smelters in the great Bamako gold market and the Intahaka mine in the northern Mali.

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