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Two anti-cyanide protesters arrested in Sudanese capital

May 7 - 2017 KHARTOUM
A young man with a gold detector in Sudan (Getty)
A young man with a gold detector in Sudan (Getty)

Two members of the Sodari Environmental Protection Committee in North Kordofan were arrested in the Sudanese capital last Sunday.

“Mohamed Mousa and Abdelrahim Gireish were held by policemen of the Press and Publications Court in Khartoum on Sunday on charges of defamation of character,” another member of the Sodari Committee told Radio Dabanga.

He explained that a native administration leader of Sodari had filed a complaint against them after they accused the native administration in the locality of “backing out from its decision to combat the use of cyanide in gold mining”.

In early April this year, people in Sodari in the northern part of North Kordofan took to the streets in protest against the use of cyanide in extracting gold from ore. Fearing for the impact of the highly toxic substance on the environment, in particular the pollution of the water sources in the neighbourhood, they handed a memorandum to the Commissioner of Sodari demanding the removal of the gold cyanidation site in the locality.

The source added that the management of the gold extraction factory has continued building the site despite the protests. “The Sodari Environmental Protection Committee has submitted several letters to the locality and state authorities to stop the factory or relocate it, but we have not received a response so far.

“But we will continue to urge the locality authorities and native administrations to find a radical solution to the problem,” he said.

Other protests

In various parts in Sudan, people have protested the use of cyanide and mercury in traditional gold mining.

In Talodi in South Kordofan, protesters stormed the gold cyanidation site in El Tagola on 29 March. During clashes with paramilitaries of the Central Reserve Police (Abu Tira) guarding the area, the entire site burned to ashes.

For months, the people of Sawarda in the Northern State have been protesting the gold cyanidation plant in the area. On 9 April, it seemed that their actions were successful as the state authorities promised them the factory would be closed. Yet, more than two weeks later, the plant was still operating.

“We may have to take to the streets again,” the spokesman for the Sawarda “six-parties protest committee” told Radio Dabanga on 23 April.


After the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, and in anticipation of the secession of South Sudan (in July 2011) and the loss of two-thirds of its oil revenues, Khartoum opted to stimulate the gold production in the country. Within five years, the gold production tripled, and in the following years the production continued to grow.

In December last year, Sudan's Minerals Minister Ahmed El Karori reported that Sudan produced 25.6 tons of gold from January to November, amounting to $1.24 billion.

The Minister said that there are 42 mining companies producing gold in the country, and lauded the cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Russia. The Minerals Ministry planned to double the production of gold and other minerals in 2017. 

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