Gold mining to increase in Sudan’s South Kordofan
Last week, the Sudanese Ministry of Minerals signed an agreement with a Saudi Arabian company to explore for gold and other minerals in South Kordofan. The protection force stationed near a gold mining facility in El Tadamon locality is reportedly terrorising the population.
The agreement with the Saudi Azhab El Yamin company was signed by the Minister of Minerals, Dr Hashem Salem, and Saudi investor, Mohamed Bin Suleiman Bin Sulbi, the official Sudan News Agency reported on Thursday.
In a press statement after the signing ceremony, Bin Sulbi called on businessmen and investors to invest in Sudan in a number of fields, including mining, agriculture, and industry.
The members of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police who have been deployed by the South Kordofan government to guard the Liha gold mining facility in the area of El Zarafa in El Tadamon locality, are patrolling the area as well.
“They are terrorising the population,” a resident of El Zarafa told Radio Dabanga. “The government took measures to protect the plant, not the people and the environment affected by the cyanide used in the gold mining.”
The residents have urged the Commissioner of El Tadamon locality “to dismantle the gold factory which is harmful to human and animal health, and immediately withdraw the militiamen from the area”.
For more than two years, the National Committee for the Protection of the Environment in South Kordofan is warning for the health and environmental hazards of using highly toxic cyanide to extract gold from ore. The Committee started last year with advocating for better mining legislation and regulations in accordance with international standards. Cyanide is controversial and banned in a number of countries.
Protests against gold cyanidation plants in several parts of the country have increased, in particularly in 2017. In March, police were deployed to protect the about 100 mining areas in South Kordofan after angry people torched parts of a gold extraction facility in Talodi. In October, a curfew was imposed in Kologi, to quell protests against the state government’s invitation to gold mining companies to come and work in the area.
There are 361 registered mining companies in Sudan, according to the Minerals Minister in May this year. He has made a plea for the use of safe chemicals in mining operations.
Recently, activists in eastern Sudan’s Red Sea State, protested the permission granted by the state authorities to mining companies to operate in the Wadi El Alagi archaeological area.
Two of them, Osman El Bagir and Hashim Ali, were held by agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Port Sudan on 18 December. They are still being held.
Human rights activists are calling on the authorities to immediately release them or bring them to trial. The head of the opposition National Beja Party earlier threatened to organise large protests.
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