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Northern Sudanese demand gold cyanidation site removed

April 24 - 2017 SAWARDA
Protests in northern Sudan’s Sawarda against the gold cyanidation site in the area, 8 April 2017 (RD)
Protests in northern Sudan’s Sawarda against the gold cyanidation site in the area, 8 April 2017 (RD)

Residents of six villages in Sudan’s Northern State have rejected the state government's response to their demands concerning an immediate stop to the operations of the gold cyanidation site in the area of Sawarda.

Wael Hassan, the spokesman for the Sawarda “six-parties protest committee” told Radio Dabanga on Sunday that the state government has not yet fulfilled their promise to close the gold cyanidation plant in the area.

“The state government promised us on 9 April that the plant would be closed immediately. Yet, it is still operating,” he said. “But last week we received a statement from the authorities that the closure will be delayed.”

“We have written a reply saying that we insist on the immediate removal of the site. We hold the state government fully responsible for any developments in this regard.”

Hassan said that the members of the Committee would hand their letter to the state authorities on Monday. “We may have to take to the streets again,” he threatened.

Protests

For months, the people in Sawarda, Aru, Ashim, Kiweika, Abboud, and Wawa villages (between the 2nd and the 3rd cataract on the River Nile) have been protesting the gold cyanidation site in the area, as they fear the effects of the use of cyanide on human, animal, and environmental health.

Two weeks ago, the protesters took to the streets again. They blocked the highway between Dongola and Halfa, demanding the authorities to definitely remove the factory.

The authorities complied to the demands after a judge issued a decree to suspend the operation of the site.

“If the government does not implement the decision, the protest campaign will be stronger the next time,” Hassan told this station at the time.

He further said that a committee would be formed to monitor the dismantling of the factory that “should be completed within 15 days”.

Controversial

Cyanidation is a technique for extracting gold from low-grade ore. It is the most commonly used process for gold extraction. Because of the highly toxic nature of cyanide however, the process is controversial, and its usage banned in a number of countries.

Popular actions against the use of toxic substances in gold mining sites in northern Sudan and in South and North Kordofan, are growing stronger. In end March, angry residents of Talodi in South Kordofan set fire to the El Tagola gold extraction plant.


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