Sudan Says It Thwarted Attempts By Foreigners to Smuggle Precious Metals

Khartoum — The Sudanese ministry of minerals disclosed today that a number of foreigners were nabbed at a crossing point as they attempted to smuggle rocks containing precious metals.

The minister of minerals Kamal Abdel-Latif emphasized that they will ensure that such incidents are not repeated. He gave no details on those arrested or their nationalities.

"Starting today we will not allow anyone take any rock from the country's soil except for self defense purposes and anyone taking a rock [abroad] will be held accountable," he said at a meeting today.

The official stressed that any permission relating to minerals can only be granted through his ministry.

In the last few years Sudan has witnessed a gold rush which attracted informal miners from all over the country and reportedly some foreigners.

The government seeks to boost its gold exports through granting exploration licenses in a bid to compensate for loss in oil wealth resulting from secession of South Sudan.

A gold refinery was inaugurated late last year which will produce gold to international standards and help reduce the amount of ore smuggled overseas to places such as Dubai.

The central bank banned exports of gold ore effective this month.

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