13 March 2018

Sudan: Wali - Police Secure Disputed Mining Site in Sudan's River Nile State

Wadi Singeir — The site granted to a Russian mining company to operate in Sudan's River Nile state, has been secured by a strong police contingent following public riots that turned deadly just over a week ago.

The Wali of River Nile state, Hatim El Wasila, has announced securing the site and property of the Russian company with about 400 police personnel after the death of one of the victims of the clashes that broke out between citizens and the company at Wadi Singeir in the northern part of Berber.

A man was shot by the police and succumbed to his wounds in the hospital. Five other people sustained injuries.

The governor has called for the need for tight coordination between the state and that the incident at Wadi Singeir should be a warning for future coordination so that it should not recur.

One million gold miners

The Minister of Minerals Hashim Ali Salim said that there are more than one million Sudanese working in the field of gold mining.

Yesterday the Minister told the energy committee of Parliament that there are about 130 concession companies working in the field of mining, including 19 foreign companies from different countries of the world and 77 Sudanese companies working in the field of processing of mining waste

The Minister briefed the committee on the incidents that took place at Wadi Singeir, one of the gold mining areas in the River Nile state which claimed the life of a citizen and wounded others.

The Minister pointed out to the challenges facing the traditional mining sector such as the overlap of federal and state laws and regulations that affect the work of companies, this as well as the claims of local residents to ownership of land which makes the mining companies in confrontation with them.

Members of the Energy and Mining Committee of the National Assembly stressed the solution of the problem of minerals in the traditional mining areas and the development of a plan to prevent occurrence of such incidents in other parts of Sudan, as the issue needs clarity, transparency and proper application of state and local legislation to prevent the overlap

Osheik Mohamed Ahmed Tahir, the State Minister of Minerals, said there are more than 65 mining companies, including 23 concession companies, 30 mining waste treatment companies and 12 small mining companies in the state.

Anti-mining protests

According to a recent report by the Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG), the country's gold industry is affected by "bureaucratic and political corruption, including embezzlement, cronyism and patronage." Minister of Minerals Hashim Ali Salim complained in January that state governors, ministers and commissioners violate the law by granting certificates for mining without any reference to his ministry.

Last year there were numerous protests against gold mining factories in North and South Kordofan and Northern State, staged by residents. Their main grievance was against the use of highly toxic cyanide in the gold extraction processes, which can pose a threat to people and animals.

One year ago, on 29 March, two anti-cyanide protesters were injured in Talodi in South Kordofan, when they stormed the gold cyanidation site in Tagola, and clashed with a paramilitary guarding force. The confrontations led to the burning of the entire site, and the state decided to deploy police forces to protect mining areas.

Last November, a student succumbed to gunshot wounds which he sustained during a violent demonstration against gold mining companies in South Kordofan' s Kologi.

Condemnation

The opposition party Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) condemned the shooting of people in Singeir by the police at a Russian gold exploration company and called for a transparent investigation into the circumstances of the shooting. A statement the party issued said that the use of weapons in the face of unarmed people "confirms that the regime and its multiple security services and guards resort to violence in the face of the citizen's right to express their opinion."

The SCP further called on the authorities and the Russian company to immediately involve residents in consultations that benefit everyone.

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