Der Spiegel on Peru’s gold rush

The excellent German weekly, Der Spiegel, has a very good article on gold mining and the supply chain in the current issue.

Spiegel manages, despite translation, to write much better pieces than any UK newspaper. Their daily newsletter in English is well worth signing up to.

Two paragraphs from the lengthy but fascinating piece entitled High Gold Prices Spark New Peruvian Gold Rush catch the attention.

The quotes below show just how tough it is to properly trace materials and commodities when you get to any kind of scale:

“Along the Madre de Dios river alone, 18 tons of gold, worth about $600 million, are mined each year. It is all but impossible to determine the provenance of the gold. Gold mines on the coast and in the mountains, which have government licenses, secretly buy up the gold from the rainforest and claim that it comes from their own production. Once it has been laundered in this way, the metal is legal and can be exported.

Swiss companies, in particular, are buying up Peru’s gold. In 2009, the Andean nation exported almost 60 percent of its gold, worth a total of $6.8 billion, to Switzerland. “The banks pick up the gold bars with private jets and fly them directly to Geneva,” says Pedro Solís, the owner of Inversur and one of the biggest gold traders in Madre de Dios. His buyers rush from village to village in battered Toyota pickups to collect the metal. Heavily armed bodyguards carrying pump-action shotguns ride along to guard against holdups.”

We argued in our editorial letter, at the start of our July/August magazine issue, that supply chains and traceability will be one of THE big issues for companies in the coming years. More and more in-depth investigations by newspapers appear to be showing this to be true. See more below from our recent archive:

STRATEGY & MANAGEMENT: Supply chains – Traceability on track
Traceability is becoming the new benchmark for measuring a brand’s ethical sourcing performance

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