A group of international human rights activists and researchers have partnered to carry out a joint investigation into the role that Western mining firms have played in proliferating the violence linked to the gold trade in Africa. Gold trade on the African continent, especially in West Africa, has been tainted with corruption, unscrupulous practices and violence for decades.
The recently launched Blood Gold Report research program will analyze gold-related deals between authoritarian African governments, mining companies in the West, and Russian mercenaries such as the Wagner Group and how those deals may have contributed to violence in Africa. Researchers will initially focus their efforts on Mali, an incredibly resource-rich African nation that has been essentially taken over by a military junta backed by mercenaries from Russia.
Blood Gold Report and 21 Democracy researcher David Clement says Mali stands out because it has abandoned democratic principles and is currently run by a junta propped up by the Wagner Group, a paramilitary group that has been implicated in the slaughter of 500 people and other atrocities in Mali. Clement explained that even though the junta currently running Mali has kicked out UN peacekeeping missions from the country and continues to commit atrocities against the people of Mali, several large Western companies are still operating in Mali.
Ever since the Wagner Group tried and failed to take over the Kremlin, international authorities have been increasingly interested in the mercenary group’s involvement in the African gold trade. Clement said the research team is concerned that gold from African mines may be fueling violence in countries such as Mali while also supporting Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. He added that the world’s expectations of international companies have shifted in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, with most companies pulling out of Russia soon after it invaded Ukraine; he noted that the mining industry should be held to the same standard.
The Blood Gold Report will work to give consumers and investors confidence that they aren’t buying conflict or “blood gold. The group is now calling for interested parties in all walks of life, including academics, civil society, politicians and industry players, to provide submissions that can help it achieve its objective.
In a recent interview with Mining Technology, Clement said the research program is designed to facilitate accountability in the increasingly violent gold trade. Customers, investors, and the general public deserve to know if the companies around them choose to work with human rights violators, military dictatorships and violent mercenary organizations such as the Wagner Group, Clement said.
For companies such as Reunion Gold Corp. (TSX.V: RGD) (OTCQX: RGDFF) that have operations in more stable jurisdictions, such as Guyana, the findings of the Blood Gold Report could provide insights regarding which precautions to take when expanding into politically unstable regions.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Reunion Gold Corp. (TSX.V: RGD) (OTCQX: RGDFF) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/RGDFF
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