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Industry Leaders at DMCC Forum Call on Airlines to Ban Hand-Carriage of Gold

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Over 130 industry delegates descended on Ghana’s capital Accra on 7 September, to attend DMCC’s second Africa Dubai Precious Metals Forum (‘ADPMF’) held at the Kempinski Hotel.

Government ministers, regulators, mining industry professionals, security experts, airlines, logistics facilitators and representatives from the OECD were drawn to the two-day event, which took its theme from an integrated ‘Special Workshop’ entitled: ‘Legitimising the Global Gold Trade.’

During his welcome speech, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DMCC Executive Chairman, said:

“Through the Africa Dubai Precious Metals Forum, we seek to strengthen relationships between all market participants, along the Africa-Dubai trade corridor, while creating a theatre of dialogue to better understand the challenges facing Africa’s gold mining and exporting countries, including how the gold trade is conducted.”

The forum’s theme was developed to discuss ways to combat what has become an unacceptable level of ‘unofficial' gold trading, according to participants, which is not only costing governments’ billions of dollars a year in lost revenues, but is impacting severely on the lives of thousands of miners and the supply chain operators through questionable employment, exploitation and transportation practices.

The sessions, presentations and panel discussions of the two-day forum, covering topics ranging from government policy to employment practices and trading mechanisms, resulted in a clear consensus that whilst various models of government legislation go some way to addressing the complex issues, its industries within the supply chain, both upstream and downstream, could and should do more to help rectify the global problem of questionable practices in the mining, trading and transportation of gold.

Forum participants also concluded that in the absence of more robust legislation, airlines and their associations, should be asked to do more, as arguably they are the most important component of the supply chain, to help curb the global transportation of gold. By banning the shipment of gold via hand-held carry-on baggage, airlines and associations would be protecting passengers on-board from potential security issues, while playing a positive and significant role in reducing the incidence of illicit gold distribution.

Conference delegates agreed that responsible sourcing is a key factor in determining which path the gold might take to get to its eventual market. Government participants were open about the ineffectiveness of some legislation, or an inability to properly enforce it.

The minister of Lands and Natural Resources for Ghana, H.E. Hon, Nii Osah Mills, in a meeting with Mr. Bin Sulayem, explained that Ghana had developed a robust, two-tiered mining and export legislative framework, using a secure and traceable bank payment system which, for the most part was successful with licensed medium and large mining and export companies. The Minister pointed out that Ghana does not have an ‘Artisanal Mining Sector’ - but his country does recognise that unlicensed operators exist and pose a threat to legitimate mining and trade practices.

Delegates and experts in the ‘Legitimising Global Gold Trade’ workshop remarked that most gold mining and trading countries in Africa suffer from the questionable practices of small mining concerns, many of which trade and export gold as a ‘personal item’ thus avoiding taxes and fees in the country of origin.

In an earlier meeting with Mr. Bin Sulayem, the minister of mines for Burkina Faso, HE Hon. Alpha Omar Dissa, confirmed that his country was losing about eighty percent (80%) of their mined gold, through illicit means. “We appreciate your visit to discuss this subject…” said the minister, “because we need your support to improve our legislation and stop the bad practices”.

At the conclusion of DMCC’s forum in Accra, delegates agreed that a number of points could be taken forward - and that an immediate call to action should be made, to the global air transport industry, and urge IATA and ICAO, to enact a plan to ban the hand-held personal carriage of gold in favour of adopting a “cargo only” policy, which requires proof of responsible sourcing.

As a result, Mr. Bin Sulayem said: “It is my hope that affirmative action will ensure a positive outcome to this debate. The next step is to continue our firm working relationship with OECD and pursue dialogue with IATA and ICAO.”

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