A sit-in against toxic and harmful mining practices in River Nile state has entered its second week. The sit-in reportedly succeeded in halting all mining operations in the area, including those of a Russian-owned gold mining company. Local authorities made some pledges to the protesters.
The sit-in is organised by the people living around El Ebeidiya in Berber locality, north of River Nile state capital Ed Damer, to demand an end to the use of toxic chemicals and other harmful practices in mining and development projects in the region.
The activists have reportedly succeeded in halting all mining operations in the area, including those of a Russian-owned mining company named Merowe Gold.
The protesters also demand the dismissal of the manager of the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company Mubarak Ardol.
Ardol, who is also Secretary-General of the National Accord Forces, a split-off group from the Forces for Freedom and Change, which is dominated by former rebel leaders, is a controversial figure in Sudan. He moved away from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North in South Kordofan and became director of the Sudanese Company for Mineral Resources, reportedly with friendly ties to the ousted National Congress Party of Omar Al Bashir. He has also been accused of corruption.
Recently, CNN disclosed how “Russia is plundering gold in Sudan to boost Putin's war effort in Ukraine” with the complicity of Sudanese military rulers. Following the publication, Sudanese protested against Russia’s looting of gold.
Next to the impact of the harmful mining processes, locals are also angry about the fact that none of the mining revenue has been invested locally, despite the urgent need to improve living conditions.
The residents of the area therefore also call for better basic services and more employment opportunities for their people, including in mining companies in the region.
Mamoun Absher, a member of a River Nile state action group and member of the sit-in committee, said that the executive director of Berber locality pledged to improve basic services in the area and arrange maintenance of all health centres, schools, and playgrounds in the region, during his meeting with the protesters on Sunday.
The director said that the River Nile state government would set up more drinking water projects, upgrade the El Gumbarab Hospital, and construct a ring road linking Berber town with El Ebeidiya.