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People in South Kordofan reject traditional gold mining

August 9 - 2015 ABU JUBAIHA
Workers break rocks at the Wad Bushara gold mine in Gedaref state, April 2013 (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)
Workers break rocks at the Wad Bushara gold mine in Gedaref state, April 2013 (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

The Abu Jubaiha Citizens’ Committee in eastern South Kordofan has called on all people living in the locality to oppose the establishment of gold mining companies in the area.

In a statement on Friday, the Committee demanded the South Kordofan authorities “assume their duty and exert their efforts to preserve the health of the population of Abu Jubaiha”.

Committee member Ahmed Mukhtar Ahmed told Radio Dabanga said that after “explanations by specialists about the dangers of mercury and cyanide used in gold mining, we entirely reject the establishment of any gold mining company in the area.

“The use of those toxic substances threatens human and animal lives. It causes pollution to the environment, the ground, and surface water.”

Ahmed said that “the lives of more than a million people and more than 10 million livestock in the locality and surroundings are threatened in the name of development, services, and jobs”.

Increased gold mining

There are more than 81 gold extraction sites in Sudan. The mining absorbs about five million miners and other workers, while those affected by these activities are estimated at 11 million.

Sudan earned more than $1 billion from gold exports during 2014. The Minister of Minerals, Ahmed El Sadig El Karori, told the press early July, that he expects gold production to reach record amounts this year, especially by a number of new companies, which have entered the production phase.

The quantity of gold produced during the first half of 2015 amounted to 43 tonnes, while the production during the same period last year was about 31 tonnes.

El Karori said the government is using its turnovers from gold exports to fill the deficit in its GDP caused by the loss of oil revenues, after South Sudan declared its independence Sudan in July 2011.

The increased gold production has economic, environmental, and security impacts on the local communities, in particular the effects resulting from the unwise use of chemicals like mercury and cyanide in the mining operations, as those substances flow in the valleys, water streams and the ground water.

On 11 February, Radio Dabanga reported about the mass death of fish in Lake Nasser, south of Wadi Halfa, on the border between Sudan and Egypt. 

Hundreds of people took to the streets in El Bowga, River Nile state early March, in protest against the toxic waste produced by traditional gold mining companies in the area.

In April, a committee formed by the Minerals Ministry recommended a review of the environmental deterioration resulting from the toxic gold production waste, which is traded at the markets, as well as a temporary halting of new gold mining licenses and the extension of current permits.

El Karori instructed the dissemination of a letter to all gold mining states, in which he ordered the implementation of the committee’s recommendations. The state governments should focus on environmental safety and regulate the handling of traditional mining waste.


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