Switzerland Imports Hundreds of Tons of Illegally Mined African Gold

The accusation comes from Swissaid, a Swiss non-governmental humanitarian organization, according to which the Swiss Confederation is the world's second largest importer of illegally mined African gold

Every year, hundreds of tons of gold mined in Africa by artisanal methods, usually under the control of organized crime and then smuggled out of the Dark Continent, end up in Switzerland. According to a study by the NGO Swissaid, from 2021 to 2024, between 321 and 474 tons of undeclared artisanal gold were produced annually on the African continent, which is very rich in raw commodities. That’s $24 to $35 billion in monetary terms, or 72-80% of all precious metal production from African mines. “The gold trade is increasing year after year,” the study’s authors emphasized.

“Switzerland,” the NGO claims, “is the second highest-demand country for this illicitly mined precious metal.” Most of Africa’s gold – 80% of industrial and artisanal production – is shipped to Dubai, UAE. After passing through Dubai, gold is re-exported mainly to Switzerland, the second largest importer after the Emirates. From 2012 to 2022 (latest available data), the Swiss Confederation imported more than 1670 tons of gold from the UAE.

“Due to Swiss law, which considers the last place of processing to be the country of origin of the precious metal, this gold is considered Emirati gold in Switzerland. There is no mention of its African origins,” Swissaid report says. Its authors remind that of the nine largest gold processing plants in the world, four are located in Switzerland, through which “50% of the international trade in this precious metal passes.”

To download the full Swissaid report (PDF in English) from Pluralia’s website, follow the link