Organised theft of gold, platinum, copper and diamonds has taken on alarming proportions within the mining industry.
Did you hear the howling protests from various heavyweight South Africans uniting against a report on mis-invoicing, released in mid-July by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad)?
SARS, the Chamber of Mines, and Statistician-General Pali Lehohla, completely rejected Unctad’s finding that mis-invoicing of gold exports to South Africa’s leading trading partners totalled US$113 billion over the 15-year period to 2014.
Unctad was saying, in other words, that the vast majority of South Africa’s gold exports are unofficial. The Unctad report put the massive “gap” down to smuggling: most gold that leaves the country does so on an unreported basis. The real question, and it is an intriguing one, is whether Unctad could have been right (in principle), but for the wrong reasons.