The wall texts throughout the exhibition illustrate the complexity of the global supply chain for gold and rare minerals. – Scroll down for additional information.
Switzerland plays a key role in the global gold trade. The country imports an average of 2500 to 3000 tons annually of mined gold from over 60 countries, along with recycled gold. It refines the equivalent of 70% of the world’s annual production and is home to four of the world’s largest gold refineries.
Precious metals from Africa reach Switzerland indirectly via third countries. A large part of the gold production from the Congo, for example, is smuggled to neighboring Rwanda and Uganda, reducing the tax revenues available to the Congo from gold production. With no gold resources of their own, such transit countries supply the global market primarily via Dubai.
Exchanging gold from dubious origins and not combating smuggling from third countries remains a major issue. Importers in Switzerland claim it is difficult to determine the origin of gold because it becomes mixed up in global value chains and some countries lack either the will or the power to increase legal scrutiny on this important commerce.
According to the data compiled by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), gold constitutes the largest share of Swiss commercial exchange. This large share can be understood by the concentration of key gold supply chain actors in Switzerland such as refiners, jewelers, banks and financial institutions. Among those, refineries such as Metalor, Valcambi, Argor-Heraeus and PAMP have especially been at the center of recent public debates around the responsibility of firms towards transparency and human rights.
Further Information regarding Switzerland: SWISSAID report: The dark side of the gold trade, Data by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC)
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), like in many other gold producing countries, official gold exports amount to only a fraction of its estimated production. Most of it is smuggled to neighboring Rwanda and Uganda. Other known routes of gold smuggling lead from Burkina Faso to Togo. The routes of the opaque gold trade are in constant movement – adapting to evade the public gaze.
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Department of Geography, University of Zurich:
Research, interviews, 3D scans, videos, photographs: Gabriel Kamundala, Department of Geography, UZH
Supervision and textual content: Dr. Timothy Raeymaekers, Department of Geography, UZH,
Dr. Muriel Côte, Associate senior lecturer, Department of Human Geography, University of Lund
University of Zimbabwe
University of Ouagadougou I
Institut National des Sciences des Sociétés (Burkina Faso)
Groupe d’Etudes sur les Conflits et la Sécurité Humaine (DR CONGO)
Immersive Arts Space, Zurich University of the Arts ZHdK:
Scenography: Mariana Vieira Gruenig
Interaction Design, 3D Experience: Chris Elvis Leisi
Spatial Augmented Reality Engineer: Florian Christoph Bruggisser
Video editing, storytelling: Alan Sahin
Sound design: Patrycja Pakiela
Additional on location audio recordings: Alfred Borauzima
Translation, proofreading: Alliance Riziki Murhula, Edward Wright
Voice over: Shabnam Chamani, Rino Hosennen
Chief technician: Sébastien Schiesser
Production manager: Kristina Jungic
Project lead: Prof. Christian Iseli