top of page

Why Gold is so Expensive Considered Valuable, Even Today? - Who Determines the Value & Supply Chain

Gold is one of Earth’s most valuable resources, with one kilogram regularly valued at over 55,000 US dollars. In 2020, Mali produced an estimated 71.2 tons of gold. But Mali only saw $850 million from gold in 2020, when that amount is worth billions, not to mention that the country likely produced much more than the reported 71.2 tons.

The situation isn’t unique:

a number of other gold-rich countries in Africa, including Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Niger also aren’t seeing the income they should, given the price of gold.

The force behind this is greed on an individual, corporate, and national scale, and a corrupt system that perpetuates itself. Although Mali has abundant gold, the country lacks the infrastructure to mine and export it. So the government allows multinational corporations to apply for licenses to mine gold in exchange for taxes paid to Mali’s government.

These taxes should, theoretically, finance development, like building the infrastructure to mine gold, improve the economy, and provide citizens with public goods like healthcare and education.

Tax money alone isn’t enough to do these things, of course:

a government also has to be invested in its people’s well-being, and government corruption can prevent progress.

But without adequate funds, even the best intentioned government doesn’t stand a chance of improving circumstances for its citizens.

Foreign corporations exploit Mali’s need for tax revenue to get the government to sign on to very unfavorable yet perfectly legal contracts.

For example, one such contract stated that no corporate taxes would be owed for the first five years, costing Mali millions in tax revenue.

Meanwhile, mining licenses sometimes allow these corporations to take samples of gold out of the country without registering them or paying taxes on them.

These should be small amounts of gold used to test for quality, but the license doesn’t limit the size of samples, so this creates a loophole where corporations export large amounts of gold without paying any tax.

The multinational corporations are also evading taxes they are legally required to pay. They filter profits through a labyrinth of tax havens that’s difficult to trace.

Or they exaggerate their expenses so they end up owing very little in taxes.

For instance, a corporation in Mali uses a subsidiary in Ireland to manage its operations and another subsidiary in the Netherlands to license its brand name.

The corporation in Mali pays management fees to the Irish subsidiary and pays intellectual property license fees to the Dutch company, all for enormous sums.

These costs are deducted from overall profits, leaving the amount subject to taxes at a bare minimum.

These companies also buy gold on the black market. Local, small-scale miners often operate without a license, so the government is unaware of how much gold they mine.

Corporations buy gold from these miners, avoiding the cost of mining the gold themselves, and pay the miners far below market value.

Then they turn around and tell the government they incurred huge expenses mining gold they didn’t mine at all.

There’s no way for Mali’s revenue authority to verify this information, causing the country to lose even more tax money.

Similarly, corporations pay corrupt government officials to help them smuggle gold across borders, primarily to the United Arab Emirates, rather than operating through legal channels.

In 2016, Mali reported around $200 million of exported gold, but the UAE reported receiving slightly over $1.5 billion of imported gold from Mali that same year.

The gold is then sold to European, American, and Asian markets from the UAE, with no questions asked about its origins.

Similar patterns can be seen with gold-rich countries across Africa, indicating that gold smuggling is happening on a massive scale,

without ever being subject to taxes.

All of this creates a vicious cycle, forcing a continued reliance on the corporations that helped create the situation in the first place.

More than half of Mali’s citizens live below the international poverty line, while their nation’s wealth lines the pockets of foreign corporations and corrupt officials.

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page