The production of minerals in Sudan has significantly increased during the first half of this year, especially in the sectors of traditional gold mining.
Minerals Minister Ahmed El Sadeg El Karori told the press in Khartoum on Tuesday that the quantity of gold produced this year so far, amounting to 43 tonnes, is unprecedented, as the production during the same period last year was about 31 tonnes.
Sudan earned more than $1 billion from gold exports last year. El Karori said the government is using its turnovers from gold exports to fill the deficit in its GDP caused by the loss of oil revenues, after South Sudan declared its independence Sudan in July 2011.
El Karori expects gold production to reach record amounts this year in all sectors, especially by a number of new companies, which, he said, have entered the production phase.
He added that his Ministry has advanced in legalising conventional and random gold mining by 85 percent, in cooperation with the states and stakeholders, and noted that the remaining 15 percent will have been finalised in August. The new regulations will facilitate the taxation and the monitoring process in the mining sector, which El Karori deems vital.
On 30 May, after a meeting with a representative of the MEM multinational companies group, El Karori announced that his ministry is seeking to settle the local mining industry, in order to boost the Sudanese economy, especially in the field of gold, iron, chrome, black sand, and manganese.
There are more than 162 mining companies operating in Sudan. 51 of them are foreign and 111 national, besides 177 small-mining companies.
The Minister stressed that efforts are being made to minimise what he described as side effects from the use of mercury in traditional gold mining. He said that an agreement has been reached with a German company to supply an alternative to mercury.
People in northern Sudan have staged protests more than once in the recent past, against the use of mercury and cyanide by gold mining companies in the region.
On 11 February, Radio Dabanga reported about the mass death of fish in Lake Nasser, south of Wadi Halfa, on the border between Sudan and Egypt. A source from the Ministry of Environment expressed his concerns about the toxic substances used to separate gold particles from ore, “in quantities that exceed the global rate limit”.
Last year, residents in northern Sudan also complained about an unusual high rate of cancer cases. They attributed it to the use of cyanide, which spreads through the air.
International human rights organisations have called for an economic embargo on Sudan’s gold exports, claiming that the revenues from the sector are being used by the government to fuel the country’s civil war.
In particular, the USA-based Enough Project is lobbying for such an embargo. In order to support peace and human rights in Sudan, the USA should pressure the Sudanese regime economically and financially, Enough stressed last March.
Those pressures should be connected to serious policy objectives in Sudan, to put an end to mass atrocities, and achieve a comprehensive peace agreement, the report read.
(Sources: Sudan Vision Daily, footprint2africa.com, Sudaneseonline, RD)