American gold coins produced by the U.S. Mint, must, by law, be sourced from gold that is mined in the United States or in a territory or possession of the United States. This is true for American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins, American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coins, and all official U.S. commemorative gold coins, as required by Title 31, Section 5122 of the U.S. Code, which also permits the U.S. Mint to access gold reserves held by the U.S. Treasury Department. 

This requirement eliminates the risk that the gold may have been sourced from illegal mines, which are scattered throughout South America and Africa and are causing severe harm, not only to the natural environment, but even to people’s homes.

A dramatic example is the town of Zaruma in Southern Ecuador. It sits atop a mountain that is rich in gold ore reserves, so rich that illegal miners, known as sableros or swashbucklers, have been digging tunnels underneath the town to extract its gold ore. The richest ore, containing more than 150 grams of gold per ton—compared to eight grams for a high-grade commercial mine—lies directly underneath the streets of Zaruma. 

Years of illegal mining destabilized the foundation of Zaruma’s historic central district to the point that a giant sinkhole has swallowed three homes and a cobblestone road. Authorities fear much of the town’s central district is unstable. 

Still, the illegal mining continues. Ecuador’s military failed to stop the sableros. Now the government plans to fill key entryways to the underground passages with cement and rocks in an effort to block the sableros and stabilize the city’s foundation.

Elsewhere in South America, illegal miners are spilling toxic mercury into waterbeds, destroying natural habitats, and damaging Amazon forests.

By purchasing genuine American gold bullion coins, investors can be confident their holdings are ethically sourced and not contributing to the damage caused by illegal mining.