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Sudan’s gold exports reached $4 billion in last three years, says finance minister

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May 27, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government revealed that gold exports during the last three years reached $4 billion stressing that traditional gold mining covered 50% of the shortfall in the foreign exchange that resulted from the South’s secession in 2011.

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A local brings his gold for examination at a laboratory in the gold market in Khartoum (Photo: Reuters)

The Sudanese finance minister, Badr al-Din Mahmoud, said in statements following the opening session of the special conference on traditional mining on Tuesday, that the central bank approved new policies, including keeping 10% of gold production as a reserve along with the conventional foreign exchange reserves.

He noted the increase in gold production through traditional mining and stressed that gold production since the beginning of the year up until May reached 20 tonnes, saying it helped bridge the deficit in trade balance and cover the country’s need of imports.

Last March, the government projected that gold production in 2014 would reach 70 tonnes compared to 34 tonnes in 2013 following development of the traditional mechanisms of exploration.

The minister of mining, Mohamed Sadiq al-Karuri, for his part, said the traditional mining sector produces between 90% to 93% of the country’s gold, pointing that around one million people are currently working in that sector.

He acknowledged that the government did not yet develop the necessary regulations for controlling traditional mining, saying this has led to a set of problems relating to environmental health and the inadequate use of mercury in gold purification besides failure to comply with the scientific measures for opening gold wells.

The ministry of mining had earlier said it plans to legalize and regulate the informal mining sector through the 2014 mineral wealth code which will be approved by the concerned bodies.

Al-Karuri further revealed introduction of new policies to curb gold smuggling through offering high prices for the purchase of gold from traditional miners and opening additional outlets of the central bank for purchasing gold.

The East African country is looking for gold to make up for the budget deficit it incurred as a result of losing three quarters of its oil production due to the secession of South Sudan in July 2011.

In recent years a growing number of foreign gold companies have expressed interest in obtaining licences to operate in Sudan.

(ST)

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