AFP reported the Islamic fighters in the Sahel found a lucrative gold boom with the explosion of artisanal gold mining.
The report published by the International Crisis Group says these gold mines are providing a new source of funding for jihadists.
It is also a boom for armed groups in the area where governments are not really present.
In Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, “armed groups have seized gold mining sites since 2016 in areas where states are weak or absent. Artisanal gold mining has boomed since the 2012 discovery of a Saharan vein stretching from Sudan to Mauritania,” the ICG said.
The report says production accounts for almost half of overall regional output with an annual value between $1.9 and $4.5 billion.
The ICG calls it clandestine mining and it is a source of substantial cash for armed groups.
The Jihadist groups are exploiting the mines with impunity and no government or armed forces dare take them on.
The mining operations involve a total of 2million people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.