Security officers held an anti-gold mining activist in Buram in South Darfur on Thursday. They also summoned four community leaders to their offices.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a listener reported that agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained civil society leader Ammar Jibril from his home in Buram town on Thursday morning.
He explained that Jibril is well-known in the area because of his opposition against the security hazards of gold mining in the area.
The security apparatus as well summoned four leaders on Thursday, “on charges of irregularities happening in the gold mines in El Radoom”.
The source said that Sheikh Ibrahim Juma, Hammad Dowa, Mohamed El Tijani, and Hasan Osman spent four hours at the NISS offices in Buram on Thursday. “They were instructed to return to the offices on Friday.”
Traditional gold miners in Sudan still use the highly toxic cyanide and mercury for extracting gold from ore. Large-scale mining operations make use of safer alternatives.
Mercury, causing damage to the nervous system at even relatively low levels of exposure, can contaminate the atmosphere and water at a very long distance. Cyanide that prevents the cells of the body from using oxygen, can enter water, soil, or air.
Protests against gold extraction plants in several parts of Sudan increased over recent years. In particular in 2017, people took to the streets in Northern State, North Kordofan, and North Darfur in fear for their health.
Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the southern Sudanese rebel movement led by the late John Garang in January 2005, Khartoum began to prepare for a possible secession of the south. As a secession would include the loss of about two thirds of its oil income, the government opted for the development of gold mining to compensate the losses.
In 2014, Sudan had become Africa’s third largest gold producer, with more than $1 billion from gold exports. According to the US Enough Project, the majority of Sudanese gold is conflict-affected and entails “a high risk for money laundering”.