The Sudanese Ministry of Minerals is legalising traditional mining. It will buy gold from private miners at the Jebel Amer gold mines in North Darfur in order to prevent smuggling of the precious metal.
Minister of Minerals, Dr Ahmed El Karori, told traditional gold miners after his arrival to Jebel Amer in El Sareif Beni Hussein locality on Monday that the Ministry will buy the gold according to the global gold prices.
He explained that the Ministry decided to regulate traditional mining in order “to maximize the benefits and minimize the negative issues in the sector”.
The Ministry aims to record every gold produce, to ensure that it is being exported through official channels. In this way, the revenues obtained by the sale of gold will surely reach the State’s treasury, he said.
A fund will be established, in cooperation with the registered mining companies, to improve the services for the gold miners in the area.
El Karori emphasised that these companies are in no way competing with the traditional miners. “They are legal companies, governed by rules and regulations.” These regulations also include development projects for the communities in the area.
The license of any company violating the law will be cancelled, the Minister said. He pointed to the more than 30 companies whose contracts were terminated last year for failing to comply with the regulations.
He further noted that huge investments are made in the field of minerals. “Sudan is rich of more than 30 kinds of minerals. 361 companies are operating in the field of minerals in the country with obligations toward the communities.”
The Minerals Minister arrived at Jebel Amer accompanied by 65 officials, including Abdelwahid Yousef, Governor of North Darfur, Kamal Abu Shouk, North Darfur Minister of Urban Planning and Public Utilities, and Abdelrahim Hamdan, Deputy Field Commander of the paramilitary Rapid Response Forces, which stand under command of the Sudanese president.
The governor pledged to the traditional miners in Jebel Amer to provide clean drinking water and health care services, and called on them to cooperate with the local committees formed to facilitate the legalisation of the traditional gold mining sector.
In early January, Interior Minister Esmat Abdelrahman called for “the intervention of the armed forces to restore the rule of law, and take the Jebel Amer gold mines back from elements armed with heavy weapons and four-wheel-drive vehicles which are beyond the capacity of the police”. The area is reportedly under control of armed Abbala tribesmen, after the army withdrew in early 2013.
In addition, multiple sources reported from El Sareif Beni Hussein locality in January that thousands of heavy armed foreigners are mining in Jebel ‘Amer since 2013.
“These foreigners smuggle large amounts of gold out of Sudan through Chad and Libya,” a source said. “They are protected by the local communities, and are ready to kill whoever stands in their way.”
Tribal leaders from the area confirmed the presence of dozens of thousands of foreigners seeking gold in the Jebel Amer mines.
“The area has become chaotic because of the presence of nearly 100,000 people from Chad, Central African Republic, Niger, and Mali,” the omda of the Beni Hussein tribe reported at a news conference a week ago. He pointed to the inability of the authorities to secure the border with Libya, and the proliferation of arms in the area, where police and other regular forces remain absent.