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Mercury, cyanide sold freely in South Kordofan

May 16 - 2016 ABU JUBAIHA
Mercury used by artisanal gold miners (WorstPolluted.org)
Mercury used by artisanal gold miners (WorstPolluted.org)

Mercury and cyanide are being sold unmonitored in the markets of Abu Jubaiha, South Kordofan, leading to environmental damage in the area.

Ibrahim Nima, chairman of the local committee on environmental protection, reported the selling of the toxic chemicals in Abu Jubaiha to Radio Dabanga. “There has been serious environmental damage, such as the death of a large number of cattle in various parts of the locality.”

In December last year, a Member of Parliament reported the death of livestock in Abu Jubaiha because of the presence of mercury, used for the extraction of gold in the mining areas.

“The chemicals are sold openly without any monitoring,” Nima said in an interview with Radio Dabanga, pointing to the establishment of several labs for mining in the region.

The government authorities are aware of the damage these substances may cause, but continue to grant licenses to mining companies in the state, Nima said.

“All the people in Marafein, south of Abu Jubaiha, refuse the presence of the new companies.” One of these companies is El Itimad, which was established in the area last week.

The committee on environmental protection has given El Itimad a maximum period of 72 hours to leave the site, according to the chairman. “We will hold the regional authorities responsible for the consequences, in the event that the company does not respond to our demand.”

In August 2015, the Abu Jubaiha Citizens’ Committee called on all citizens to oppose the establishment of gold mining companies in the area. Their opposition was sparked by specialists who informed the population about the dangers of mercury and cyanide used in gold mining, one of the committee members explained at the time.

Poisonous

Mercury, which is used to refine gold, is a highly poisonous element which can affect the brain, nervous and reproductive systems if inhaled as vapour. Cyanide has been used by the mining industry to separate gold and silver particles from ore. Both chemicals may cause various serious, possibly fatal health problems. Mercury is considered by the World Health Organization as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.


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