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Chemist: Cyanide, mercury ‘catastrophic environmental risk’ in South Kordofan

December 7 - 2016 SOUTH KORDOFAN
Extracting gold from ore mined in South Kordofan (File photo by Adam Moller)
Extracting gold from ore mined in South Kordofan (File photo by Adam Moller)

An expert has warned of “catastrophic environmental risks” of the use of cyanide in mining, and the serious effects on the population and the environment from processing factories in South Kordofan.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga on Wednesday, Dr Yasir Hamouda*, a Sudanese chemical expert, expressed alarm that the Sudanese government allows the use of the highly toxic cyanide in mining. He highlighted the dangerous effects of cyanide on living organisms and the environment.

Dr Hamouda said that most countries in the world countries have prohibited its use because it is difficult to control. He pointed out that it takes less that two grams of cyanide to kill humans and animals.

In the interview, Dr Hamouda referred to the serious impact of the use of cyanide through experiments in countries such as Romania, New Guinea, the Philippines, and Argentina.

He also warned of the risks of traditional mining to human health as a result of the use of mercury: “The Sudanese government’s allowing of this kind of mining without providing safety as irresponsible.”

Dr Hamouda questions the government’s motives for “moving government mining residues from various regions of Sudan to South Kordofan.

“The Government has begun establishing a Karta factory in Kadugli in South Kordofan where there are heavy rains.”

He warns of dangers of cyanide penetrating ground water, contaminating wells and valleys that are a source of drinking water for humans and animals.

He has pointed to the broad popular rejection of establishing Karta factories in the Abu Gubeiha and Alleray areas.

Kordofan

The national committee for environmental advocacy and victims of mining in South Kordofan state have called upon the central government authorities to stop the mining companies from using cyanide.

On Tuesday, the committee’s spokesman Ahmed Mukhtar, told Radio Dabanga that various committees of the localities in the state called for a meeting on Sunday in Khartoum where they talked about the seriousness of these companies that operate without people's consent, and without control or respect for the environment.

He says that there are more than 11 companies mining gold using cyanide in various areas of the state.

He said that these companies do not enjoy consent from the local people, but are granted licenses with the approval of the state government headed by Governor Eisa Abakar.

Divide and rule

Mukhtar accuses the state government of perusing divide and rule policies by tempting some native administrations to pass its agenda and decisions which are rejected by the people of the state.

* Editor's note: Dr Hamouda spoke to Radio Dabanga in his personal capacity as a Sudanese expert. His comments do not purport to reflect the opinion of any academic institution, nor should they be inferred to do so.


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