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Sudan cabinet outlaws mercury, cyanide in mining

October 9 - 2019 KHARTOUM
Environmentalists collect dead birds in Wakara, South Kordofan, July 24, 2019 (RD)
Environmentalists collect dead birds in Wakara, South Kordofan, July 24, 2019 (RD)

Sudan’s Council of Ministers has issued directives calling an immediate halt to the use of toxic mercury and cyanide in mining operations in Sudan following mass protests in South Kordofan and elsewhere in the country.

At its Periodical Meeting in Khartoum today, headed by Prime Minister Hamdok, the ministers directed that usage of mercury and cyanide has to be stopped immediately in mining operations. The council also ordered amendment of the agreements with companies working in the field of mining.

The government of South Darfur announced the cessation of mining activities in the localities of Mershing, East Jebel Marra and El Wehda.

‘Community development’

According to the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA),the council said that a proportion the profits generated by companies have to be allocated to develop the local communities besides establishing a development fund at mining areas.

The directives of the council followed a review by ministers of recent events in Talodi in South Kordofan, where public protests against the impact of mining companies have led to violent clashes with militia forces.

The Minister of culture and Information, Faisal Salih, explained in press statement that “all available information assured no fatalities”, however, he acknowledged that there were injuries and wounded cases.

The minister also admitted  the government was “responsible from slowing down dealing with the issue”.

He said the popular sit-in extended for long period in the area without intervention from the authorities.

The minister announced that the Council of Ministers have stopped the work of companies and appointed environmental supervisors among residents in the area to observe work of mining processes, and report any violations that might harm the environment.


In late September, Mohamed El Taayshi, member of the Sovereign Council, met with a delegation from Kadeer and Kalogi in South Kordofan in Khartoum. He called for suspension of the work of gold companies in South Kordofan. “If these companies are found to be involved in the death of residents and animals, and environmental pollution, they should be brought to trial and must compensate those affected.”

He added that “most of the capitalist companies have no religion, ethics and or ideology”.

The delegation from Kadeer and Kalogi provided a comprehensive explanation to the member of the Sovereign Council on the abuses of gold mining companies and the environmental and health disasters that have occurred in the region, such as genetic deformities, animal deaths and people dying.

The acting South Kordofan governor ordered on September 11 that all gold mining companies must stop working and that all their machineriy and buildings will be seized until further notice. So far, this has not been implemented.

In August, the ‘Demanded Bodies Association’ reported more than 1,500 foetal and neonatal deformities caused by mining companies using harmful and toxic chemicals such as cyanide and mercury in Sudan.

Ahmed Mukhtar told a news conference in Khartoum on the occasion of the launch of the association, which comprises 38 members, that they have monitored bird mortality and changes of the conditions of tree leaves in 15 Sudanese states because of mining.

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