Gambia’s military helped its former commander-in-chief, Yahya Jammeh to transport tons of minerals illegally mined and shipped out of the country to China.
At least 50,000 tons of minerals, mostly rutile, zircon, and ilmenite were transported for Jammeh from mines across the country and loaded into 40ft containers.
Some of the minerals shipped were from off-book mines in the eastern Gambia region of Basse. Precious minerals like gold are suspected to be from the region.
Jammeh’s forceful takeover of the mining industry in The Gambia came at a time when a more than twenty-five fold jump was seen in China’s investment in Africa in fewer than 10 years.
Jammeh used the army to force explorers to disclose locations of discovered minerals, later pushing them out of the country and take over their businesses.
His trusted military General Saul Badjie oversaw the operations and security of the mines, including in places like Batokunku, making them out of reach of the country’s geologists.
The army filled at least 90 containers with minerals for Jammeh worth some $7.75 million (D310 million dalasis) in under two years.
Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow has rolled out a reform program for the Gambia’s security services that would see Jammeh’s loyalist diminished and give him greater control of the army.
Jammeh used his company, APAM to carry out the secret mining activities. APAM, a subsidiary of his KGI company owes at least $600,000 (D24 million dalasis) to the country in tax arrears and licenses fees over the past two years.
Jammeh had emptied a mining account at the Central Bank of The Gambia belonging to Carnegie Minerals, a company he forcefully took over.
He stashed millions from mining activities in accounts at commercial banks where he freely used the funds at his discretion, refusing to report them as part of the government’s revenue.