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HUDO: ‘Nuba anti-mining activists facing unfair trial in Sudan’

September 5 - 2018 TALODI
Gold mining in Sudan (AFP/alaraby)
Gold mining in Sudan (AFP/alaraby)

Five members of the Talodi Youth Association in South Kordofan will be brought to court today for criticizing the use of cyanide in gold mining in the region.

Imam Ali Hussein (28), vice-president of the association, El Naeem Abdelmoneim (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 five had organised a seminar about the dangers of the use of cyanide to extract gold from ore. According to the Human Rights and Development Organisation (HUDO), based in Uganda, they had published a statement requesting the authorities to immediately close the gold mining plant located in the middle of a cattle grazing area, about 15 km from Talodi town.

On the second day of their arrest, a case was opened against them under Article 69 of the Sudan Criminal Code, disturbance of public peace, and Article 77, public nuisance. Not much later, they were released on bail.

On September 3, they were summoned to court on September 5. “This will not enable them to seek legal support out of Talodi because it’s the rainy season,” HUDO stated in an Urgent Action call on Tuesday.

HUDO calls upon the Sudanese government to intervene. The lawyers of the five accused should given enough time to prepare the defence.

The organisation further urges the authorities to take the concerns of the communities living near gold mining factories seriously, and “stop intimidating them while demanding their rights”.

Professor Siddig Tawer, advisor to the National Committee for Environmental Advocacy and Victims of Mining, told Radio Dabanga in August that mining companies expelled from Kalogi have moved to Talodi locality.

His team, led by the Health Minister of South Kordofan, earlier investigated a reported increase in the number of miscarriages, the birth of deformed children, and cases of kidney failure in El Tadamon in South Kordofan.

“There have been occurrences of women giving birth to deformed babies in El Tadamon and Abu Jubeiha localities. The latest case has been in Abu Jubeiha. This happens because of the use of cyanide,” Tawer said.

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.

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 per cent of the gold in the rocks. The left-over soil is then treated with cyanide to extract the remaining gold.

This process results in highly toxic industrial wastes. Traditional miners and small gold mining plants 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 State, North 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 Extraction, highlights the human and environmental costs of the use of cyanide.

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