An illegal gold mining network, on Monday, comprising Chinese, Chadian and Nigerian nationals, has been dismantled in southern Libya.
Reports have it that a network, led by a Libyan man, was mining four large sites in the southern desert, said the Tripoli attorney general, which posted photos of the mines and seized gold ingots on its Facebook page on Sunday.
However, the search for gold was carried out by Chinese, Chadian and Nigerien nationals staying illegally in Libya, according to the same source. Five suspects – a Libyan and four foreigners – were arrested by security services, the statement added.
Photos released by the Prosecutor’s Office show shallow rectangular pools, the size of Olympic swimming pools, dug in the middle of the desert, and nuggets and ingots of black and gold metal seized.
Gold panning is not a widespread practice in Libya, a vast oil country where the desert covers more than two-thirds of its surface area, which is difficult to monitor.
This summer, Libyan authorities dismantled a clandestine cryptocurrency mining network on several sites in the west of the country. Dozens of Chinese nationals involved in this illegal activity were arrested.
Libya has been plunged into chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Two rival executives, one based in the capital Tripoli and the other in the east of the country, are vying for power there.