Despite being known primarily as an oil producer; South Sudan has substantial gold deposits with activities largely dominated by artisanal mining.

In addition to artisanal mining, there are industrial-like operations concentrated in the Gorom and the Kapoeta areas where deposits are believed to be in abundance.

But the government has limited control over how transactions in gold are done, or who is involved. Local dealers buy gold from artisanal miners and sell it to larger buyers in regional towns, such as Kapoeta and Juba. 

Most of the gold produced in South Sudan is smuggled out of the country. The main supply chains run from South Sudan across Uganda and Kenya and it also moves to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, and then to international markets in Dubai and China.

The main border posts used for this purpose are Nimule-Elegu and Kaya bordering Uganda, and gold is smuggled into Kenya through the Nadapal-Lokichogio border post. For gold moving by air, it flies from Juba International Airport to Kampala, Dubai, and China.

In the capital Juba, various groups of actors are active in the illicit gold market. Sudanese, Ugandans, Kenyans, and Chinese nationals, as well as political and business elites, are all active in the gold trade.

Although they all deny, watchdog groups and our interviewees on the ground point at the country’s powerful leaders for having links to the country’s highly secretive gold mining business.

Because it is secretive, the government has no records of how much quantity it is producing, or how much forex it earns. But export data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), in 2019, show South Sudan exported $47.6 million in gold to the United Arab Emirates, making it the second most exported product to crude oil.

Team members

Jale Richard

Jale Richard is a South Sudanese human rights, data and investigative journalist based in Juba.

Okot Emmanuel

Okot Emmanuel is an investigative and human rights journalist based in South Sudan.

€7.000 allocated on 15/01/2020

need resources for your own investigative story?

Journalismfund Europe's flexible grants programmes enable journalists to produce relevant public interest stories with a European mind-set from international, national, and regional perspectives.


support independent cross-border investigative journalism

We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.