Illegal Mining of Gold More Profitable Than Cocaine in Colombia

Security officials in Colombia report that illegal mining of gold has become a more profitable activity for FARC, ELN and other organized crime gangs in the country.

According to a police official, a kilogram of cocaine sold in the Colombia jungle is sold for $2,570 (5 Million Colombian Pesos).  Based on the current world market price for gold, a kilogram of gold could be sold for up to 19 times the price of cocaine.

In addition to the higher prices for gold, the armed rebels are able to sell more gold in a shorter period of time. To harvest cocaine in the jungles, a farmer would need expertise in harvesting cocaine and the process generally takes up to 6 months. In comparison, an illegal gold mining operation can extract up to 2 kilograms of gold each week.

In 2012, police shut down 330 illegal gold mines across the country. In the first half of 2013, police shut down 336 illegal mines.

Source:  Andrew Willis, “Gold Beats Cocaine as Colombia Rebel Money Maker: Police,” Bloomberg Businessweek, June 21, 2013.