Metals and Minerals Smuggling

Information and statistics about metals and minerals smuggling. Data about gold smuggling, diamond smuggling and other precious metals are collected from intelligence reports, security agencies and other public information sources.

The illegal and unauthorized mining of gold in Peru causes $560 Million in lost revenue for the country each year.

Source: Jeremy Haken, “Transnational Crime in the Developing World,” Global Financial Integrity, February 2011.

In South Africa, Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo, illegal gold trafficking creates a yearly loss of $2.3 Billion a year, according to a report by Global Financial Integrity.

Source: Jeremy Haken, “Transnational Crime in the Developing World,” Global Financial Integrity, February 2011.

Half of the global supply of heavy rare earth minerals are produced and trafficked from illegal mining operations in Southern China.

The minerals are used in a wide range of technology products such as the iPhone and Flat Screen televisions.

Source: Keith Bradsher, “China Cracks Down on Illegal Industrial Mining,” New York Times, December 29, 2010.


From the start of the Kimberly Process in 2002, the estimated rate of unauthorized diamonds smuggled onto the world’s market has dropped from 15 percent to less than 1 percent in 2010.

Source: Associated Press, “UN strengthens efforts against blood diamonds,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek, December 16, 2010.

Up to $1.24 Billion in gold and other precious minerals is trafficked out of the Democratic Republic of Congo each year.

Source: James Reini, “Dubai reins in imports of Congo’s ‘conflict minerals’,” National, December 2, 2010.

Illegally mined diamonds consist of 15 to 20 percent of the diamond market in Sierra Leone.

Source: “Blood diamonds,” Irish Times, August 6, 2010.

Illegal and unauthorized trafficking of diamonds in 2010 consisted of 1 percent of the global diamond market.

Source: Amelia Hill, “Blood diamonds from Zimbabwe to flood international market, watchdog warns,” Guardian, July 8, 2010.

40 tons of gold worth $1.24 Billion was smuggled out of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009.

Source: UNODC, “The Globalization of Crime,” Chapter 11: Regions Under Stress, June 2010.

Illegal miners in Kenya are living in poverty and are selling gems on the black market in order to eat, reports the BBC.  According to the report, the miners are selling stolen gems dug up from mines to  traders for $2.  The gems then go on to the world markets where they are sold for up to $1,000.

Source:  Kenneth Mungai, “Deadly game of Kenya’s gem trade,” BBC News, August 14, 2009.

The black market diamond smuggling in Zimbabwe could generate $200 Million a month for the country if it was properly regulated and taken out of the hands of the army, according to Human Rights Watch.