Russian Forces Seize Control of Mali’s Gold Mining Sites

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Africa | 0 comments

Staff Reporter

The notorious Russian mercenary outfit, formerly known as the Wagner Group, has taken control of Mali’s largest artisanal gold mine. Since their reorganization under the control of the Russian Defense Ministry in 2023, the Wagner Group, now calling themselves the Africa Corps, has made controlling gold mining sites in Mali a top priority.

In an interview with Africa Report Magazine, a Malian source revealed that the Wagner’s men used to charge entrance fee to people coming to extract gold.

“Wagner’s men controlled access to the mine for a time. They charged an entrance fee to people coming to extract the gold.” He said.

According to the Africa Report Magazine, Russian mercenaries arrived by helicopter near the rural village of Intahaka in the Gao region and seized the gold mine with the assistance of the Malian military on February 9.

Experts suggest that Russia’s focus is now shifting towards Mali’s most productive gold mines, Loulo and Gounkoto, operated by Canada’s Barrick Gold.

According to the Blood Gold Report published in December 2023, Russia has earned over $2.5 billion from trading African gold since its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

A Russian analyst, Jack Watling, suggested that Russia follows a pattern of fueling insecurity, posing as a security solution, and extracting mineral wealth as payment, showing a colonial-like approach.

“There is a standard Russian modus operandi, which is that you cover the operational costs with parallel business activity. In Africa, that is primarily through mining confessions.” He said.

“The Russian approach, which is to isolate these regimes, capture their elites and to extract their natural resources, is quite colonial.” He added.

The Russian Ministry of Mines has estimated that Mali has approximately 881 metric tons of gold deposits in about 300 artisanal mining sites, and more than 10% of the population, around 2 million gold miners, depend on the industry for their livelihoods.


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