The crash caused by coronavirus has not taken the shine off the mineral, which often does well in times of economic stress.
By August, gold had reached a new record price, over $2000 per ounce.
But even as international gold traders saw record profits, “local prices offered from buyers in Africa actually went down”.
Beyond the inability to extract value from gold as it travels from under the soil to external buyers, the politics of many African countries turn on gold: from the DRC, to Sudan, to Zimbabwe, where the wife and son of President Mnangagwa are implicated in a gold-smuggling syndicate.
And not just national governments. “Regional affiliates of Al Qaeda and Islamic State are in the front line attacking industrial mining operations, but also taking over parts of the informal gold trade in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – a business producing over 50tn of gold a year worth $2bn”