Illegal gold mining is growing as the next major threat to Colombia’s security after its crackdown on the drug trade has forced criminals to look for new opportunities.
According to Colombian mines and energy minister Mauricio Cardenas, it is more of a problem as gold can be more easily sold, the Vancouver Sun reports.
"It’s something that has been growing fast, and in some ways it’s Colombia’s next major threat from the point of view of illegal groups," Cardenas said.
"We have to combat this very effectively, very fast. We cannot let this problem grow."
The problem is already a major issue in throughout southern Africa, China, Mexico and India, where many illegal mines exist.
In Mexico, illegal mines are run to finance the mafia, while in India corrupt government officials often take a hand in running the illegal mines.
In India, the government recently held an auction to sell off 25 million tonnes of illegally mined iron ore, after previously hanging those involved.
Two months ago, the Chinese government was forced to rescue more than twenty men trapped underground after their illegal coal mine collapsed.
As gold’s price increases, illegal mining of gold in Colombia is now much more profitable, Cardenas explained, adding that the money used will finance terrorist groups in the region.
"Illegal gold mining is easy to legalise once you have a gram of gold in your hands, because then you can sell it anywhere," Cardenas said. "It’s something you have to control" at the mine site.
The Vancouver Sun reports that Colombian vice president Angelino believes there is a high level of gold produced illegally.