Uganda: Inside Uganda’s Complex Gold Trade – by Halima Abdallah (All Africa – November 4, 2020)

Two girls lifted their eyes up and one asked me whether I wanted to buy gold when I stopped to observe their activities. They did not use sluice ponds, nor did they dig any pits – they collected mud gathered by the road side and started panning using a plastic basin to get gold.

“See, I have found some gold,” said the girl pointing at tiny golden coloured particles inside the basin. “If you buy this gold, I will have money to buy food at our home,” she said. The girl is a resident of Rupa in Moroto District, Karamoja Sub-region in north-eastern Uganda. This area is known for alluvial gold. Experts say gold in the area is 98 per cent pure.

She needed a paltry $40 (about Shs140,000) for a gram of gold. That same volume trades at $1,600 (about Shs5.9m) on international market.

This encounter is miniature of how gold is traded like any other ordinary product on the local market at the extraction sites operated by artisanal and small scale miners (ASM)

Outside the ASM mine sites, however, gold trade becomes a complex affair. The market gets murky as soon as the precious metal leaves the mining sites. Often unlicensed gold dealers are also engaged in the trade.

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