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Mercury, cyanide sold freely in South Kordofan

May 16 - 2016 ABU JUBEIHA
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 Jubeiha, South Kordofan, leading to environmental damage in the area.

Ibrahim Nima, chairman of the Abu Jubeiha Committee for Environmental Protection,told Radio Dabanga that the toxic chemicals are sold on the markets of Abu Jubeiha. “There has been serious environmental damage, such as the death of a large number of cattle in various parts of the locality.”

“The chemicals are sold openly without any monitoring,” he said and pointed 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 Jubeiha, refuse the presence of the new companies.” One of these companies is El Itimad, which was established in the area last week.

The committee has given the El Etimad gold mining company 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 December last year, a Member of Parliament reported the death of livestock in Abu Jubeiha because of the spread of mercury in the mining areas.

In August 2015, the Abu Jubeiha 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.

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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