Madagascar: A One-Stop Gold Hub to Counter Illegal Exports

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Gold exports are poised for a revival. This was the resounding message conveyed by the Minister of Mines on Monday, February 19, during a demonstration of the new export procedures aimed at ensuring the traceability of Malagasy gold ingots.

Under the scrutiny of journalists and cameras, the X-ray spectrometer of the new one-stop gold hub scanned the first ingot to determine its exact composition before being placed on the hydrostatic scale.

State-of-the-art equipment serves a traceability procedure that Mines Minister Olivier Rakotomalala is proud to showcase: “All the information collected through physical measurements is integrated into an identification sheet. These are further incorporated into a QR code printed on the ingot, before the official stamping featuring Madagascar’s emblem, the zebu head. Also inscribed are the gold fineness and serial number, demonstrating that it has passed through the one-stop export hub.”

Resumption of Gold Exportation

In Madagascar, gold exportation has been prohibited since September 2020. Last March, the government finally lifted this ban. However, for the past year, no ingot has legally been allowed to leave the country. “The clean-up operation in the gold sector took longer than expected,” admits a source.

In 2018, only 3 tonnes of gold were declared at customs, while 15 tonnes were illegally exported from the island. The suspension of gold ore exportation was intended to halt trafficking, but in 2021 and 2022, high-profile cases of gold trafficking severely shook the government. This is now history for the current administration, which aims to demonstrate that this one-stop hub will address some of the “past” issues.

“The state’s objective is to export an average of up to 15 tons of gold per year. To achieve this goal, we need to focus on professionalizing artisanal mining and also endeavor to expedite the opening of industrial gold mines. Otherwise, this objective will be challenging to attain,” continued the minister.

So far, six operators have obtained their approval. The owner of the ingots stamped this Monday will be the first to export gold since 2020. More than 80% of Malagasy gold is exported to Dubai.

Soukaina Sghir

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