By Yigal Chazan, Alaco

Over the past two decades, large swathes of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been subjected to conflict between rival militia groups, which together with some Congolese army factions, have benefited financially from the artisanal mining of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.

These so-called “conflict minerals” have found their way into international supply chains serving a range of end-users – including companies in the electronics, automotive, aerospace and jewellery sectors – prompting efforts to regulate DRC artisanal mines and strengthen corporate due diligence procedures. Read more

South Korea’s stock exchange opened a gold trading platform on Monday with the hope of boosting transparency of gold trades and rooting out shady deals used for tax evasion.

Eight brokerages and 49 dealers were allowed to participate in the market. They will get tax benefits to encourage their active participation and they will be exempted from trading commissions temporarily until March 2015. Importers of gold to be traded on the exchange will also be exempted from tariffs to increase supply. Read more

India’s policy makers clamped down on gold imports last year, repeatedly hiking duties and introducing quantitative restrictions which squeezed supplies and pumped up premiums in the local market.

As a result China knocked India off the top spot to become the world’s biggest gold market in 2013, according to research by the World Gold Council (and as beyondbrics predicted a while before). What’s surprising is that demand for the yellow metal is still growing rapidly in India, where love for gold is deeply ingrained in culture and religion. Read more

As India’s current account deficit ballooned to unsustainable levels last year, the government slammed the breaks on gold imports with duty hikes and new rules on re-export of the yellow metal. The result was that the jewellery industry hit a standstill.

However, according to Pakistani authorities, India’s official inflows of gold have simply shifted to unofficial channels. Time for action. Read more

India’s external balances have been a focal point this year as the country’s economic woes have centred around the depreciation of the rupee.

So policy makers will be pleased to see India’s trade deficit narrowing yet again. The gap was squeezed to $9.2bn in November from $17.2bn in the same period a year earlier, according to new data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Good news? Read more

Rumours have been circulating for a while that capitalist bankers may be cooking up ways of helping cash-strapped, socialist Venezuela. Now details are emerging of how the Bolivarian Revolution is paying generous fees to get its hands on hard currency, without actually running up any new debt, or running down its reportedly-depleted foreign exchange reserves. Read more

South Korea has announced it plans to set up a gold exchange in 2014 to much fanfare – but analysts warned that it might be poorly timed, given weak demand for bullion amid the global economic slowdown.

The country’s financial watchdog said on Monday that spot gold will be traded on its main bourse from early next year as the government is keen to boost transparency of gold trades and root out shady deals used for tax evasion. Read more

Gold mining companies are fast-reducing their drilling activities in Africa, pushing down the exploration levels on the resource-rich continent to a 17 month low.

It’s bad news for many Africa countries – gold mining makes a big contribution to GDP and foreign currency earnings. Read more