Photograph by Theodore Scott, via Wikimedia Commons.  Accessed 10.08.17


In recent years Dubai has emerged as a global trade hub for gold, and is believed to hold the largest cash-for-gold market in the world. This, in itself, has attracted gold sellers from across the world – including those from the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”).


  • Gold is being mined in the DRC by illicit groups, with the government unable or unwilling to challenge this status quo.
  • The majority of this gold makes its way into neighbouring Uganda or Kenya, before moving on to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) – perhaps via informal trading systems such as semi-Hawala transfers.
  • Once in Dubai, the questionably sourced gold is not properly picked up by authorities. There is a concern that influential commercial elites are too pliant with regards enforcing regulations, despite knowing that the origin of some of this gold is illicit.

Not All That Glitters is Gold
The mining sector of eastern DRC is focused on the 3TG “conflict minerals” – cassiterite (tin), wolframite (tungsten), coltan (tantalum) and gold – so-called due to their links to the funding and financing of armed groups in the DRC and surrounding countries.

Notably, due to the precarious security environment, industrial mining is not a common occurrence in the region and nearly all mining in eastern DRC remains artisanal. Furthermore, a high percentage of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) activity is illegal, dangerous and unregulated due to a lack of legislation, basic oversight and appropriate policing.

However, in recent years several global and domestic initiatives have been introduced in a bid to eradicate the global trade in conflict minerals and increase transparency, security and regulations in the DRC’s mineral trade.