The mass death of fish in Lake Nasser, south of Wadi Halfa, on the border between Sudan and Egypt, has sparked fears that mercury and cyanide might have leaked into the lake.
During the past two days, large numbers of fish were found dead in the Nubian lake, as it is locally called. A delegation from the area has taken samples for examination to Khartoum.
A source from the Ministry of Environment told Dabanga that the Ministry is concerned about mercury and cyanide employed by prospectors in the area to separate gold particles from ore, in quantities that exceed the global rate limit.”
He explained that the Environment Ministry has appealed to the EU to fund research on the quality of drinking water in the mining and oil-producing areas in Sudan.
According to the Mining Facts Organisation, “mercury was once used throughout the world in gold processing. This process has since been replaced by more efficient and less environmentally damaging techniques, such as cyanide leaching in large-scale and industrial mining.
“In developing nations, mercury pollution is increasingly a result of illegal or artisanal mining, and is an ongoing and growing concern.
“Cyanide has been used to separate gold and silver particles from ore for more than 120 years. With proper management, cyanide can be used safely and without harming the environment, despite its toxicity.”
Related article: ‘Unusually high cancer rate in Sudan's Wadi Halfa’: local source (1 May 2014)