Ethiopia's drought-hit economy is losing $30m (£19m) a year from gold smuggling, its government believes.
Local gold diggers often sell on the black market
Up to 3 million grammes are leaving the country every year, according to Khasu Tadesse, head of the Mines Ministry's project co-ordination department.
Local diggers throughout Ethiopia are selling on the black market to traders from neighbouring Sudan, Kenya and Somalia, he said.
The government is working on getting small-scale miners to work together so as to receive international prices while still selling locally, thus making sure their earnings enter the formal economy.
At present, Ethiopia has only one operating gold mine, in Lege Dembi about 300km from the Addis Ababa, producing about 300kg a year
A number of foreign firms have licences to prospect for access to the country's 500 or so tonnes of proven reserves.
With drought threatening to cause widespread malnutrition across the country after its harvest failed, Ethiopia needs all the foreign currency it can get.
Its main export crop, coffee, produces little enough money in any case with coffee prices at a 30-year low and perhaps as little as $1.20 a kilogramme going to the growers.