June 9, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese minister of minerals, Ahmed Mohammed Sadiq al-Karuri, told the parliament on Monday that the government has almost no control over gold produced by traditional miners, saying that tonnes of the precious metal gets smuggled abroad.
- A local brings his gold for examination at a laboratory in the gold market in Khartoum (Photo: Reuters)
Al-Karuri said that the inability of local plants to process all gold production led to the spike in smuggling but vowed to enforce strict policies to curb it.
Traditional miners and mining companies prefer to sell their production outside the official channels because the central bank buys gold from them using the official US dollar exchange rate which is substantially lower than the black market rate.
Last March, the government announced that gold production in 2014 would reach 70 tonnes compared to 34 tonnes in 2013 following development of the traditional mechanisms of exploration.
According to the ministry of mining, traditional mining represents 90% of gold production in Sudan.
A number of lawmakers said that the central bank should be compelled to buy gold using the world price in order to curb smuggling.
The parliamentary subcommittee on Energy slammed the central bank for exporting most of the gold production saying it made the Khartoum gold refinery work with only 10% of its capacity.
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.