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Curfew in South Kordofan town after protests against the use of cyanide

October 24 - 2017 KOLOGI
Kologi (UN OCHA map of South Kordofan)
Kologi (UN OCHA map of South Kordofan)

Authorities in South Kordofan declared the State of Emergency in Kologi on Friday.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a listener reported from Kologi that the locality commissioner, Col. (Retd) Mousa Younes imposed a curfew that went into effect on Friday evening.

He ordered the closure of the schools in the town and stopped the generators that supply the residents with electricity as well.

The source said that Kologi has been witnessing severe tension since last week.

“Some weeks ago, the commissioner assigned eight officials from the area to go to the state capital Kadugli in order to persuade mining companies to come and work in the area,” he explained.

“These companies usually belong to influential members of the ruling National Congress Party. They do not care about the environment, and make use of harmful cyanide.

“The residents of the area however strongly condemned the step. In particular the youth of Kologi protest the use of toxic materials in gold mining, and publicly expressed their fear for their health and the environment,” the listener said.

“This prompted the commissioner to impose the State of Emergency and disrupt the studies of school children.”

The source added that there is a large gold mine nearby Kologi called El Himmeid.

Health hazard

Cyanide and mercury are used, mostly by traditional small-scale miners, for extracting gold from ore. The processes are controversial because of the highly toxic nature of the chemicals.

Protests against gold extraction plants in several parts of the country have increased, in particularly this year. In Northern State, North Kordofan, and North Darfur people took to the streets as well in fear for their health. In July, two people were killed in South Kordofan, in a dispute over a gold extraction plant in the area.

There are more than 40,000 gold mining sites in Sudan, he told this station in August. About 60 gold processing companies are operating in 13 states of the country, a quarter of them in South Kordofan.

Environmental law specialist Dr El Jeili Saleh predicted in August that the use of cyanide and mercury will definitely lead to an environmental disaster in the country. He expressed his concern about the silence of the Sudanese government with regard to the protection of the environment. “In many cases, government officials are even helping these companies to violate the law.”

According to the US Enough Project, the majority of Sudanese gold is conflict-affected and entails “a high risk for money laundering”.

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, Sudan opted for the development of gold mining to compensate the losses. In 2014, Sudan became Africa’s third-largest gold producer, with more than $1 billion from gold exports.

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