Mali export tax regime encourages illicit gold trade in West Africa
Mali’s taxation practices applicable to gold exports have turned the country into West Africa’s illicit gold trading hub, Partnership Africa Canada said in a report published today.
The report, “The West African El Dorado: Mapping the Illicit Trade of Gold in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Burkina Faso” investigates challenges in the governance of artisanal gold mining in the three countries—and the vulnerabilities posed by the illicit trade of gold on the region.
All countries have taken important steps towards encouraging legal trade of artisanal gold—a sector which employs an estimated three million miners in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Burkina Faso—such as the harmonization of export taxes at 3%.
Yet, Partnership Africa Canada found that Mali’s application of export taxes to only the first 50kg of gold per month is promoting smuggling, as traders bring gold over the border into Mali to get a large tax break.
“Mali’s harmful implementation of tax laws is cause for concern in the region, as it actively drives the illicit trade of gold. Mali’s neighbours are missing out on important revenue from taxes as traders smuggle gold over borders to take advantage of the tax break,” said Joanne Lebert, Partnership Africa Canada’s Executive Director.
“Importantly, export statistics from Mali are painting a worrying trend and it is up to international refiners and buyers to exercise additional due diligence on gold exported from the country to ensure the gold is clean,” added Lebert.
An analysis of gold production and trade statistics in Mali, as well as declared imports from the United Arab Emirates of Malian gold spotlighted major inconsistencies in the declared data. Over a four-year period, UAE imports of Malian gold successively exceeded Mali’s entire gold production. Mali declared 40 tonnes of gold produced in 2013—while UAE declared 49.6 tonnes imported. In 2014, the figure rose with Mali declaring production at 45.8 and UAE declaring 59.9 in Malian gold imports.
Since much of Mali’s industrial production is exported to Swiss and South African refiners, Partnership Africa Canada found little explanation for the discrepancy. The extent of the illicit gold trade in Mali raises concerns about regional peace and stability and highlights the need for refining centres to exercise additional due diligence on imports.
Partnership Africa Canada calls on Mali to undertake a comprehensive review of its tax regime to address the loopholes that make it magnet for gold produced in West Africa. Additionally, the report calls on the Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre in the UAE to ban hand-carried imports of gold and demonstrate greater oversight over gold imports.
The report also calls on gold producing countries in West Africa to harmonize policies and practices in the gold sector through a Regional Approach, similar to that currently being implemented in the Mano River Union on diamond governance.
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Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.