By Ebi Kesiena
A secret gold mining network operating in the Libyan desert, employing individuals from China, Chad, and Niger has been dismantled, as announced by the Prosecutor’s Office on Monday.
According to an official statement from the Prosecutor’s Office, the network, led by a Libyan, engages in “gold mining activities in violation of regulations” and without proper authorization from the authorities, operating in four sites in the southern Libyan desert.
The gold exploration involved Chinese, Chadian, and Nigerien nationals who were residing in Libya without legal permission. Security services successfully apprehended five suspects, including one Libyan and four foreign nationals, as reported in the statement.
Photographs released by the Prosecutor’s Office reveal shallow rectangular pools, equivalent in size to Olympic swimming pools, excavated in the heart of the desert. The images also showcase confiscated nuggets and ingots made of black and gold metal.
Gold mining is not a prevalent practice in Libya, a country rich in oil, where the expansive desert covers more than two-thirds of its territory, making monitoring challenging.
This summer, Libyan authorities also uncovered and dismantled an underground cryptocurrency mining network across various sites in the western part of the country. Numerous Chinese nationals engaged in this illicit activity were arrested.
Since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been ensnared in chaos. The country is divided between two rival administrations, one situated in the capital, Tripoli, and the other in the eastern region, both competing for control.