How Illicit Gold Mining is causing problems in Ecuador

Ecuador is pursuing a number of possibilities, one of which is the expansion of its mining industry

FREMONT, CA: Ecuador's economy is built on commodities, and the country is well-known for its oil, bananas, and shrimp. This has frequently left the Andean country vulnerable to global price volatility, an issue exacerbated by fiscal difficulties. Ecuador is pursuing a number of possibilities, one of which is the expansion of its mining industry. Despite the fact that the country's mineral resources have yet to be fully explored, the government expects that gold and copper mining will provide roughly 4 billion dollars in tax income and around 40 billion dollars in exports over the next decade.

Mining, on the other hand, has its drawbacks, such as criminal organizations infiltrating the industry. Illicit gold mining is a serious issue that governments in Latin America and the Caribbean are dealing with. While illicit gold mining diversifies income and provides a hedge against volatile international financial markets, activities such as drug trafficking and arms trading provide major cash flows to transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and their fellow travelers such as international terrorist groups.

Ecuador is not immune to the prospect of criminalization, despite its huge gold reserves and strategic placement near two large gold producing countries - Colombia and Peru - with TCOs.  According to a study conducted by the Organization of American States' Department Against Transnational Organized Crime (DTOC) with the cooperation of the Ecuadorean government, illicit gold mining has brought surges of violence and instability to remote areas while attracting organized crime on a local and international level and triggering an increase in money laundering and contraband. Gold ore shipments in Ecuador have been found to be irregular, according to trade statistics. According to one OAS DTOC research, Ecuador's gold ore exports surged by 27,604 percent in weight between 2015 and 2019.