Workshop on Artisanal Gold Mining

1 October 2014, 10:17

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A workshop on the Impacts of Artisanal Gold Mining in Sudan was held on 2 and 3 September at the Future University in Khartoum, Sudan.

The workshop was jointly organised by the Sudanese National Academy of Sciences (SNAS) and the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).

The workshop was intended to provide a platform for experts to engage on the issues around artisanal gold mining in Sudan and to make recommendations on the way forward. A statement on the risks and mitigation factors of artisanal gold mining for dissemination to policymakers and the government of Sudan will be produced by SNAS.

The workshop was attended by delegates from various scientific, academic and non-governmental organisations in Sudan, with South Africa being represented by two officials from the small-scale mining and beneficiation division of Mintek and the Senior Liaison Officer and Programme Officer: Environment and Energy, Ms Dorothy Ngila and Ms Phyllis Kalele respectively, from ASSAf.

The recent discovery of mineral resources in some parts of the continent has brought a renewed interest in mining that is encouraged by governments and large mining companies. This is because it is seen as a means to reduce the economic deficit and create employment.
Artisanal gold mining has been a source of income for many communities over the years. However, resulting malpractices can be damaging to the environment, health and social wellbeing of untrained miners and communities. Careless and illegal use of chemicals, especially mercury, can pollute water and thus threaten the available water resources and the food chain. During the rainy seasons, polluted water contaminates fresh water sources and consequently, the socio-economic and health effects can be disastrous. Moreover, destruction of fertile graze lands, where disorganised digging is done, can be devastating for the fragile agricultural environment.