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Environmental damage prompts Sudan to halt mining permits

April 8 - 2015 KHARTOUM
Smoke rises after a blast in a quarry at the Ariab mine in eastern Sudan's Red Sea state, the largest single gold mining operation, run by the Sudanese government in partnership with Canada's La Mancha (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)
Smoke rises after a blast in a quarry at the Ariab mine in eastern Sudan's Red Sea state, the largest single gold mining operation, run by the Sudanese government in partnership with Canada's La Mancha (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

The Sudanese Ministry of Minerals announced a temporarily halt to issuing licenses to gold mining companies in the northern Sudanese Rive Nile state on Tuesday.

A committee formed by the Minerals Ministry recommended a review of the environmental deterioration resulting from the toxic waste produced by traditional mining companies, and which is traded at the markets, as well as a temporary halting of new licenses and the extension of current permits.

After meeting with the committee on Tuesday, the Minister of Minerals, Mohamed Sadeg El Karori, instructed the dissemination of a letter to all gold mining states, in which he ordered the implementation of the committee’s recommendations. He stressed that state governments should focus on environmental safety and regulate the handling of traditional mining waste.

There are more than 81 sites producing more than 90 percent of gold in the country. The mining absorbs about five million miners and other workers, while those affected by these activities are estimated at 11 million people.

The increased gold prospection has economic, environmental, and security impacts on the local communities, in particular the effects resulting from the unwise use of chemicals like mercury and cyanide in the mining operations, as those substances flow in the valleys, water streams and the ground water.

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. Early March, hundreds of people took to the streets in El Bowga, River Nile state, in protest against the toxic waste produced by gold mining companies in the area. 


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