Gold mining mixer operators arrested after livestock dies in South Kordofan

Archive image of mixers used in gold mining operations (File Photo: social media )

TALODI – March 17, 2023

The Sudanese Mineral Resources Company announced that it had seized gold mining sites that used ‘unregulated’ mixers in Talodi, South Kordofan, after livestock died. Activists pointed out that the mixers have actually been ratified by the company and accused them of negligence.

According to a statement by the Environment and Safety Supervisor at the company’s office in the state, El Sadig Sandal, the campaign to seize the sites was initiated after a report was published on the mysterious death of a number of livestock in Talodi and the mixer operators were arrested by the police.

The company office and security services are investigating the facts and Sandal indicated that the reason for the cows’ deaths might be related to the presence of the unregulated mixers in the mining sites.

The statement announced that legal measures had been taken to bring the mixer operators to trial and pledged to be more proactive in controlling all violations accompanying the state’s mining activity and to implement inspection campaigns to eliminate the spread of unregulated mixers in South Kordofan.

Mixers are used in goldmines to chemically process gold ore and separate the precious metal from other mineral deposits, such as rocks and sand. Toxic metals such as cyanide and mercury are frequently used in these processes and pose a big risk to the environment if not processed, treated, or stored correctly.

Mining waste dumps from these mixers (called karta in Sudan), containing heavy metals such as admium, lead, zinc, copper, arsenic, selenium, and mercury or cyanide, form a long-term hazard second only to nuclear waste dumps.

Red Sea state recently witnessed tension over the presence of mixers on an army base that use cyanide and mercury.

Two days ago, people in Merowe in Northern State staged a protest against the use of cyanide. They demand the closure of all local mining plants that use the toxic chemical.

As with the protests in Red Sea state, the residents in Merowe also protest against mining activities carried out by the Sudanese military who have fenced off land “to pave the way for bringing in a mining company to explore for gold in the region”.

Inaccurate information

Sources in the town of Talodi, on the other hand, claim that the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company’s information about the ‘unregulatedness’ of the seized mixers is inaccurate. In an interview with Radio Dabanga, local residents confirmed that the company ratified the mixers and periodically collected fees from their owners.

Environmental activist Khaled Hasan told Radio Dabanga that the owners of affected livestock owners opened a report against the mixer operators, which led to their detention in Talodi Police Department on Sunday.

The representative of the Sudanese company in the state only intervened after the authorities arrested the nine mixer operators after the complaint of the livestock owners, he said.

Hasan confirmed the account of the local residents that the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company granted certification to these mixers and collected fees from them. The mixers were therefore not unregulated.

The activist also confirmed the presence of a large number of these mixes in other locations in the region.

He warned of the significant risks and high potential for environmental and health damage associated with the use of mixers, especially with the entry of the fall season.  

Mixer operators often get rid of the highly toxic mining waste in the waterways that spread through large areas of land and feed the water pits that herders depend on for drinking water and feeding their livestock.

The mixers are also not fenced off to prevent animals from getting into contact with the waste.

A young boy sits on a stack of ore sacks, like the ones used in Sudan, in a mining processing site in Nigeria (Marcus Bleasdale / Human Rights Watch)


The director of the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company in South Kordofan confirmed the prevention campaign against unregulated mixers in accordance with Article 32 of the Mineral Resources Law.

He told Radio Dabanga that the owners of the seized mixers are responsible for the situation and had deceived the local residents by saying that these mixers used environmentally friendly materials.

The director also revealed that the company had obtained a copy of a contract signed between the residents of the region, represented by the mayor, and the owners of the mixers that includes sections stipulating that residents should not inform the authorities of the mixing activities so that no collection fees are imposed on them.

Director Nasir confirmed that the company formed an investigation committee.