By Ijoo Bosco
March 30, 2014 (TORIT) – South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state government in collaboration with the New Kush Exploration and Mining Limited has begun the first gold mining exploration in the three counties that make up its Greater Kapoeta region.
- Gold panners in Nanakanak, Eastern Equatoria state, South Sudan. (Source: Hannah McNeish/IRIN)
The company’s director, Anthony Viljoen said they were granted a license of operation to undertake gold mining and exploration in the state by the central government in Juba.
"New Kush has conducted wide-ranging consultations with leaders in the counties of Kapoeta North, South and East", he said.
Tutus Lokwacuma, the Kapoeta East county commissioner said gold mining could create huge employment opportunities for the local population and help develop the region east of the state.
The commissioner said that New Kush had been given written permission to operate in the area and carried out joint community consultations.
Viljoen said his company had several mining equipment items at the Kenyan port of Mombasa ready to be transported to South Sudan.
"We hope out company will be able to extract large amounts of quality gold and to reduce the amounts that are smuggled out of South Sudan without being taxed", he remarked.
Eastern Equatoria has great potential for mining of various minerals, according to a state government survey.
South Sudan has been looking to diversify its revenue streams since a dispute with Sudan over transporting its oil to international markets led to a one-year halt in production.
Although production resumed last year when relations with Khartoum improved, the young nation, one of the poorest in the world, is still recovering from the shutdown.