The residents of Sawarda and neighbouring villages in Sudan’s Northern State have welcomed the decision of the state government on Sunday to close a gold cyanidation plant in the area.
For months, the people living in Sawarda and surroundings (between the 2nd and the 3rd cataract on the River Nile) have been protesting the construction of a gold cyanidation site in the area, as they fear the effects of the use of cyanide on human, animal, and environmental health.
On Saturday, the protesters took to the streets again. They blocked the highway between Dongola and Halfa, demanding the authorities to issue a decision to remove the factory.
The activists continued their protest actions on Sunday, and cut the power supply to the factory. After a technical team started procedures to connect the power to the factory, a judge issued a decree to suspend the operation.
“We welcome the government's decision, but at the same time we urge them to implement the decision as well,” Wael Hassan, spokesman for the Sawarda “six-parties protest committee” told Radio Dabanga on Sunday.
“If the government does not implement the decision, the protest campaign will be stronger the next time.”
Hassan further reported that a committee will be formed to monitor the dismantling of the factory. “According to our technical committee this should be completed within 15 days.”
Cyanidation is a technique for extracting gold from low-grade ore. It is the most commonly used process for gold extraction. Because of the highly toxic nature of cyanide however, the process is controversial, and its usage banned in a number of countries.
People living near gold mines in northern Sudan, and in south and North Kordofan, have been protesting the use of toxic chemicals for gold extraction for years. The actions are becoming stronger. In end March, angry residents of Talodi in South Kordofan set fire to the El Tagola gold extraction site.