WASHINGTON – The U.S. Departments of Labor, State, Commerce and Homeland Security and the U.S. Agency for International Development have issued a business advisory to alert American businesses and individuals of the growing reputational, legal and economic risks in participating in the gold trade across sub-Saharan Africa.

The well-documented relationship between gold and illicit revenue streams in sub-Saharan Africa contributes to armed conflicts and terror financing, money laundering, evasion of sanctions, abuses of human and labor rights, and environmental degradation. U.S. businesses and others are strongly urged to use adequate due diligence and appropriate measures to prevent promoting one or more of these harmful activities inadvertently. Stronger due diligence will also help to prevent bad actors from exploiting miners and benefiting from the gold trade, which remains essential to the livelihoods of millions of people across sub-Saharan Africa.

“Unfortunately, egregious labor abuses are common in places where illicit gold mining takes place,” explained Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee. “Today’s advisory on sub-Saharan Africa’s gold trade is a strong reminder to U.S. businesses that a lack of due diligence legitimizes these activities rather than helping to end conflict and widespread exploitation.”

The U.S. government is committed to addressing the relationship between gold and the illicit revenue streams through supporting technical assistance programs, sanctions actions directed at actors throughout the gold supply chain, and financial and business risk advisories. 

This business advisory is among the many resources the department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs provides to strengthen global labor standards, enforce labor commitments among trading partners, promote racial and gender equity, and combat international child labor, forced labor and human trafficking.

ILAB publishes its List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor, its List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor, and its Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor to promote awareness of goods at risk of child labor or forced labor, which can help businesses review their supply chains and avoid complicity in labor abuse. These reports highlight that in sub-Saharan Africa, children are forced by armed groups to mine gold in Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and child labor is found in gold mining in 13 other countries on the continent.

In addition, ILAB has funded technical assistance projects in Burkina Faso and Ghana to address child labor in gold mining.

Learn more about the department’s international work.

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