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Sudan at the Center of Global Interest in Green Minerals

Sudan at the Center of Global Interest in Green Minerals

Saturday, 28 January, 2023 - 09:30
Sudanese Minister of Minerals Mohamed Bashir Abdullah (Asharq Al-Awsat)

As Khartoum and Riyadh prepare to raise the level of comprehensive bilateral cooperation, Sudanese Minister of Minerals Mohamed Bashir Abdullah revealed that efforts were underway to revive the Red Sea Agreement with Saudi Arabia.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Abdullah said the Future Minerals Forum, which was recently held in Riyadh, provided a great opportunity to exchange expertise and ideas and explore new prospects for bilateral and international cooperation.

“It was an occasion to present an overview of mining in Sudan, its problems, investment opportunities and investing companies,” he added.

The minister noted that the coming period would witness joint Saudi-Sudanese discussions to develop a new vision and submit it to the concerned authorities in the two countries, according to which licenses will be granted to Saudi companies based on new foundations.

The economic sector contribution

Asked about Sudan’s production of gold, Abdullah noted that the total production reached around 50 tons in 2021, which provided $1.3 billion in contribution to the public treasury.

In the first 9 months of 2022, the production amounted to 42 tons of gold, he said, indicating that despite the decline in the volume, the rising prices increased the revenues by an estimated $1.6 billion in 9 months.

The Sudanese Minister of Minerals pointed to his country’s efforts to launch a diversified mining portfolio besides gold, which includes the production of chrome, copper, iron, industrial minerals (gypsum), lead, fluorite, and salt.

Green minerals

Abdullah told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country was seeking to explore and produce green minerals, with the aim to move towards alternative energies and reduce dependence on products with carbon emissions.

All green minerals are available in Sudan, including cobalt, lithium, uranium and aluminum, he said, adding that his country drew global attention in the efforts to get rid of carbon emissions.

“We are negotiating with specialized international companies to work in this type of mining. We have launched research, identified test sites, and conducted geological surveys that confirmed the presence of these minerals in abundance… But our problem currently revolves around financing for the production of green minerals,” the minister said.

The mining map

The Sudanese Minister of Minerals said that his country was working on three mining maps, with the help of Russian expertise.

“We have come an advanced way, as we have completed the second stage, and are heading towards the following phase, which is mining.”

According to Abdullah, Sudan has completed the drawing of its geological map, which is regularly updated based on latest research and studies.

He revealed that Sudan has also contracted a Russian company to prepare its mineral map, the data of which is currently updated to include new information.

Work plan

Regarding the government’s action plan, Abdullah said: “We are maximizing production by controlling traditional mining and increasing modern alternatives.”

“Great efforts are needed to surround the product nationwide,” the minister underlined, referring to ongoing efforts to provide financing and stimulate exploration and investment in this field.


The Sudanese Minister of Minerals acknowledged several challenges facing the mining sector in his country, including poor funding and the lack of proper infrastructure, such as electric power and paved roads.

However, Abdullah said he believed that the biggest challenge was the state’s ability to control security chaos and obtain the trust of foreign investors and producing companies, as well as countering the effects of the sanctions imposed on Sudan.

Added to the existing challenges are political instability and the fluctuation of the exchange rate, the minister emphasized, pointing however to the strength and flexibility of the Sudanese investment law, which he said has become a basic version for a number of countries in the world.

Sudan is promised a great future in the field of mining, in light of serious efforts to enhance infrastructure, mobilize financing and attract investment to the sector, according to Abdullah.

The minister pointed to another challenge represented by the need to limit the presence of mercury, in line with a global convention that seeks to reduce global mercury pollution.

“We are currently on our way to stop mercury once and for all, as we are working to provide alternatives, and are in constant contact with companies working with alternative technology,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Traditional mining

The Sudanese minister admitted that traditional mining in his country represented one of the biggest challenges facing the sector because of irresponsible and random practices that pose harm to the environment and health.

“Arbitrary traditional mining has made the country lose large revenues, but we are currently working to address these forms through two basic means. First, we have tried to limit traditional mining and issue licenses within the framework of cooperative groups… who were granted lands and spaces in a way that enables us to control production and the required capacity.”

He continued: “Secondly, we adopted the so-called tripartite contract between the government, franchise companies and traditional miners, with the aim to confront the problem of the traditional miners’ control over lands and spaces.”

In this context, Abdullah explained that based on the tripartite contract, traditional miners deliver the minerals extracted from the private lands to the franchise companies, which in turn extract the stone material and then distribute the production according to the principles agreed upon between the parties.

Looting of wealth

On the other hand, the Minister of Minerals denied the presence of looting of the country’s mineral resources. He stressed that rumors about an organized smuggling of wealth, which was reported by some media outlets, fell within a slander campaign.

Nevertheless, the Sudanese minister pointed to cases of gold smuggling out of the country, away from the eyes of the government and the monitoring companies, indicating that this often happens due to the spread of traditional mining in most parts of Sudan and in remote areas.

This type of smuggling finds its way through a number of open borders with some neighboring countries, he remarked.

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