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Court verdict on South Kordofan anti-mining activists

November 22 - 2018 TALODI
Men excavating gold from rocks provided by the men in the mines of South Kordofan (File photo: Adam Moller)
Men excavating gold from rocks provided by the men in the mines of South Kordofan (File photo: Adam Moller)

The court in Talodi in Sudan's South Kordofan has sentenced an anti-mining activist to a fine of SDG 500 ($10.50*) fine and acquitted four others. The accused were arrested by police in August after filing a memorandum to a mining company at Takla area east of Talodi demanding that they leave the area because of the use of highly toxic cyanide.

The five activists, all members of the Talodi Youth Association, were charged with stirring public nuisance and breach of public safety. Imam Ali Hussein (28), vice-president of the association, El Naeem Abdelmunim (26), secretary, and members Shawgi El Amin (30), Mahjoub Mahmoud (34), and Hamdan Yagoub, were arrested by members of Sudan’s security apparatus on August 18.

The lawyer of the activists Ali Suleiman told Radio Dabanga that the court acquitted and released Hussein, Abdelmunim. El Amin, and Yagoub, while Mahmoud was released after paying a fine of SDG 500.

Health hazards

Traditional mining is carried out by excavating the soil that contains gold. Then the soil is milled and treated with mercury, which extracts about 30% of the gold in the rocks. The leftover soil is then treated with cyanide to extract the remaining gold. The waste, or soil left over after the first treatment with mercury, known as “karta”, is moved to factories or labs that belong to companies that purchase the karta from private mines.

This process results in highly toxic industrial wastes, that produces various mineral salts. Traditional miners, small companies and gold labs dispose of these wastes by pouring them directly into valleys and streams, leading to heavy pollution in the environments surrounding the private mining areas, with long term consequences.

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 StateNorth Kordofan, and North Darfur in fear for their health.

In May, a report published by the Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) as part of its Sudan Transparency Initiative entitled Cyanide Plants in South Kordofan State: Human Life is a Price for Gold Extractionhighlights the human and environmental costs of the use of cyanide.

South Kordofan

South Kordofan is one the states in Sudan richest in gold. While many companies are involved in mining and their work is regulated by laws and policies on large and medium-sized enterprises, artisan mining is also widespread. According to statistics mentioned by the governor of South Kordofan State, Adam El Faki, in his statements during his visit to the Bajun mines in the district of Kadeer, some of these are located in the areas of Meri; West Kadugli; East Delling; Merifein near Abu Jubeiha; Meridian; Hajjar Zarg and Karnoi; El Roseires; Hejeirat and Bardab; Bajun; El Nadeef; Gurud; Toro and other areas in the state.

* All SDG currency conversions are based on the daily US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) 

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