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Gold in Sudan: Facts and Figures

Dr. Yassir M. Alobaid

Sudan is characterized by a wide diversity in the rocky infrastructure as well as the tectonic structure. Accordingly, the geology of Sudan is divided in terms of rock formation into sedimentary rocks, which consist of the Nubian sandstone group and the sediments of Umm Rawaa, which is a formation of great economic importance and contains a large stock of hydrocarbons and industrial minerals.

And the base rocks cover large areas of the surface of Sudan, which exceed 50% between the state of the Nile River and the Red Sea, as well as extending from the north to the Wadi Hawar region and the Nuba Mountains region in the west.

On the other hand, the gold mineral is found in Sudan from a geological point of view in three types of rocks, namely schist rocks, sedimentary gold, and Gossan. Despite all this information, only the sector represented by the General Authority for Geological Research, as well as the newly established Sudanese Mineral Resources Company, possesses a modest amount of geological and mineral information that has been achieved as a result of several projects implemented over 50 years in light of historical structural and institutional changes.

This information and results represent only the first step in the journey of the mining sector, especially after news of the real evidence about gold mining by the people, which confirmed in an unscientific way that there are large quantities of gold in Sudan.

The phenomenon of searching for gold by the people has increased significantly in the past few years, estimated at 10 years or more, and has spread to all parts of Sudan and has become a concern for many young people who have narrowed the space for work and employment. The precious metal, Gold.

Throughout history, Sudan has known various mining activities, such as iron and gold, since ancient times, and they were Meroe in the north “the Birmingham of Sudan”, as one traveler wrote, as well as the Beni Shanqul mines in eastern Sudan. Sudan witnessed a frantic international colonial competition, the campaigns of the Ottoman Turks at the end of the eighteenth century, and British colonialism in 1899 AD. There has been a recent national awakening during the past decade that made the activity of gold prospecting not limited to the government or companies, but rather became a mass activity that has no boundaries and its production processes are governed by customs rather than legal legislation.

Throughout history, successive national governments were not interested in mining activity, and it did not receive the required amount of attention, but after the establishment of the Ministry of Minerals and the Sudanese Company for Mineral Resources followed, interest began to increase from the official institutions, the Ministry of Minerals and the Ministry of Finance, and the Central Bank of Sudan is supported by the mining sector represented by gold from Local revenues and foreign exchange for the public treasury represented in fees and levies from traditional mining, great returns, and partnerships in the government’s share of local and foreign companies.

The central bank under exceptional circumstances after the secession of the south and the departure of oil by 75%, and then gold emerged as a basic economic resource despite the problems facing production and marketing, especially since most of the production, which is 80% of its volume, is outside the framework of the state and institutions and is produced by the people and becomes gold owned by individuals.

On the other hand, concession companies begin to enter into a contract with the Government of Sudan through a well-known agreement in which they determine the invested capital, which starts from the stage of research and exploration to the stage of drilling, which is the most complex, according to which the geological report determines the quantity of ore and the confirmed reserves, and then the experimental production and this process begin whatever the degree of technology used, whether Western or Eastern, not less than three to four years, extending to 7 years, with a minimum capital of approximately $5 million…

Companies use several technologies other than extracting gold through the CIL (Activated Carbon method) after the arrival of The company is in the production stage and based on the concession agreement between the government of Sudan and a foreign or national company, and based on the availability of services in the field or leading to it or not, the proportion of the government and the company is done in advance when the government and the company start production, and the agreement is changed to a production agreement, and a new Sudanese company is registered through the commercial registrar through and the formation of a joint administration between the company and the Government of Sudan, noting that most of the concession companies are located in the state of the River Nile and the regions of The Red Sea State, which is adjacent to the Nile River in Qabqaba and Wadi al-Ashar, and are monitored by the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company and the Geological Research Authority.

The change in the names of the companies comes under the agreement so that the partnership of the Government of Sudan becomes codified to preserve the rights of the Sudanese side, especially since all foreign companies enter Sudan as a branch. There are models for national companies that have been transformed from Reda Company to Omdurman Company as a partnership with the Government of Sudan after reaching the production stage almost 7 years ago in 2014.

The Ministry of Minerals signed several new investment agreements and an increase in production, according to positive data that overshadowed the gold sector in Sudan during the year 2021, which witnessed the signing of 5 agreements with international and local companies granting them concession contracts to prospect for gold in the squares of the states of the Red Sea, River Nile, and West Kordofan, and revenues increased. The country’s exports amounted to about one billion US dollars during the first half of last year.

According to official reports, Sudan managed to control 33 tons of gold produced during the first half of 2021, compared to 15.6 tons for the same period the previous year, which was considered a success of the measures taken by the state to combat the smuggling of this mineral.

Unofficial reports indicate that Sudan produces between (93-100) tons annually, but it is exposed to smuggling abroad through specialized groups, and only 30-40 tons of this figure enters the state treasury, which has been dependent on its exports mainly to support the budget after the separation South Sudan in 2011 and the oil supplier went.

But on the other hand, the percentage that disappears from the Central Bank is not all smuggling, but there are large quantities of them that are exposed to storage inside to save money and hoard gold by some traders, companies, and individuals dealing in the trade of buying and selling gold, which is a large percentage and sometimes outweighs smuggling due to the instability of state policies represented In the Central Bank and the Ministry of Minerals, in addition to the factor of certainty and confidence in financial institutions, which need a great effort to return the stored gold to banks.

Despite the instability of policies and decisions, the Sudanese government has put in place a package of measures to control gold, including establishing an investment portfolio to buy this metal from producers and export it abroad.

On July 27, 2021, Sudan launched the first export shipment of gold through official channels through the (investment portfolio), amounting to 2 tons of the precious metal, and it was a strong message to the smuggling mafia that is active in the country, but the problem was in the continuity of that.

On the other hand, official statistics on the volume of gold exports in one year range from 30% to 40%, but expectations indicate that production is declining due to the high cost of production inputs such as the chemicals used from the import bill and Sudan’s entry into the implementation of the Minamata Convention to ban the use of mercury in the year 2022 and the location of Sudan within the different countries of the world, in addition to the high cost of diesel and water, the fluctuation of the dollar price and the increase in workers’ wages, in addition to the landslides, rocks, and mountains that killed many miners.

Sudan is the third country in Africa after Ghana and South Africa in gold production, with an annual production of more than 93 tons to 100 tons, and 75% of it will be extracted through traditional “national” mining, which employs about two million people and is spread in the mines in the states of the Red Sea, the Nile River, and Gedaref. , South and North Kordofan.

While the organized sector contributes about 25% of the total production, the number of companies operating in the gold sector in Sudan is 361, including 149 concession companies, 152 small mining companies, and 48 companies for mining tailing.

Despite the available opportunities, there are challenges present in the lack of significant progress in the gold mining sector, represented by the many obstacles and obstacles, including the numerous fees and levies imposed by the center and the states on producers, the scarcity of fuel, and the overlapping of authorities and powers between the authorities supervising this important sector. To improve production, it is to work to remove these obstacles and complete the establishment of the Gold Exchange after fulfilling all the requirements for the establishment during this year or next year, which will lead to the cessation of smuggling, diversion and storage operations.

Note that the gold sector alone can lead to economic recovery and fill the deficit completely if the state tightens its control, as it can return with 5 billion US dollars. And despite the increase in production, Sudan has not benefited from gold over the past years except within certain limits, and it was not up to the economic expectations as a result of some wrong policies and weak legislation and laws. Therefore, there is a need to amend mining laws to be in line with the mining process, which is moving very quickly in which the state and the legislator preceded the state and the legislature

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