The current coronavirus situation continues to make its mark on the precious metal industry. Gold mining facilities struggle to remain operational, which seemingly creates opportunities for criminals.
Illegal Gold Mining in China
China is the country where the novel coronavirus outbreak began. Today, it is still on lockdown for the most part, at least where non-essential businesses are concerned. Most of the gold and silver mining operations are considered non-essential, thus very little mining is taking place at this time.
For mining firm Thian Chin Huakjan-Lao, this situation is becoming increasingly worrisome. Although the company has been granted land in a concession by the Chinese government, it is attracting the wrong crowd.
Earlier this week, three villagers from Phapon village were detained by staff members of the mining firm. They were later taken in custody by Lao authorities. Currently, they all face charges of mining gold illegally, although it remains unclear how much gold has been taken from the land.
Mining gold illegally is subject to either a fine or an actual jail sentence. It is unclear what will happen to the three individuals, all of whom are part of the ethnic minority group in the region.
Surprisingly, the village officials were aware of the illegal mining. That appears to indicate that this “theft” has been going on for some time now. Due to the coronavirus crisis, however, there was very little the local officials could do. Nor can they offer much help to the detainees due to the same reason.
Making matters worse is how this is not a standalone incident. Local sources claim that individuals have been sneaking into this land’s caves to extract gold. The region even attracts criminals from other provinces.
During one of these expeditions, dozens of villagers entered a cave on the land last April. Three of them ended up getting trapped and killed by a landslide. This landslide was caused by the villagers’ own digging without proper precautions, knowledge, or safety equipment.
Gold Remains of Keen Interest
The above story coming out of China shows the extreme measures people are willing to go through. As the coronavirus measures remain in place, making ends meet becomes all the more difficult for some groups of people. Resorting to crime is the next logical evolution, albeit risking one’s life to obtain minor amounts of gold is fairly extreme.
One could argue that this type of news shows the allure gold has during times of crisis. While the markets may be going through some volatility right now, gold still represents a certain status in society. Moreover, it is also one of the easier assets to use on a global scale or convert into cold hard cash when needed.