The opacity of the processes involved from the extraction point to when the precious minerals and the payments change hands provides the perfect cover for those who game the system at all levels.
In many African countries, national governments do not even know how much of their minerals leave their shores. Such is the level of decadence in the mineral sector in Africa.
The situations above probably operate where there are legitimate governments in place. When there are conflict situations or conditions where renegade movements are in control of the areas where the mineral resources are located, things take a gory turn. The problems of conflict minerals which the film “Blood Diamonds” portrayed in a toned-down manner are now well known.
The emphasis now is to deploy initiatives that can address all the problems associated with Africa’s extractive industry and to bring about improvements. The use of distributed ledger technology will directly address the problems with record-keeping, traceability, and management of the entire supply chain. The blockchain can be used to enforce standards that comply with international conventions on the extraction, processing, marketing, and distribution of mineral resources and their derivatives.
The political, economic and social cost of illegal mining in Africa is immense. From Ghana to DR Congo, Nigeria to South Africa, the story is the same. The locals and the economy of the mining communities are left impoverished as vast lands that could be used for agriculture are destroyed by uncontrolled and unethical mining methods.
Local workers are subjected to slave-like, dehumanizing conditions with armed soldiers paid for by these companies, set over these workers. The countries bleed foreign exchange as revenues that could have gone to development projects is siphoned off by large foreign corporations. The only gainers are the big mining companies, their executives and local collaborators in government and the communities.