Sudan mulls massive gold production in 2013
Khartoum, June 2, 2013
Sudan will produce at least 50 tonnes of gold and 40,000 tonnes of chromium this year, the African country's mining minister told state news agency SUNA.
Gold has become Sudan's biggest export, partially replacing oil revenues that made up more than 50 percent of state income until 2011, when South Sudan became independent and took with it most of Sudan's oil reserves.
Sudan will produce 50 tonnes of gold this year from traditional, manual techniques alone, up from 42 tonnes last year, said the minister, Kamal Abdel-Latif. Sudan produced around 50 tonnes in total last year.
Half a million individual miners make up the bulk of the country's gold production, but reliable data is hard come by. Part of the output gets smuggled into neighbouring countries to be sold on major gold markets such as Dubai.
The country also has more modern, mechanised mines, the biggest of which, Hassai, is undergoing investment to drill deeper as its surface deposits are largely exhausted.
Hassai's production data has been difficult to acquire since its owner, Canada-based La Mancha, was bought last year by Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris and was delisted. Eight mining firms produce in Sudan, the minister said, adding that more than 80 others were still at the exploration stage.
Abdel-Latif's forecast for chromium production of 40,000 tonnes is roughly in line with previous forecasts.
Industry executives say Sudan is high on the list of exploration firms in Africa because much of the vast country is unexplored. U.S. sanctions and Sudan's multiple conflicts have deterred many firms in the past, but investor interest is now on the rise due to high gold prices.
Sudan has handed out exploration licenses to companies from China, Turkey, Morocco, Russia, Iran and other countries.-Reuters