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Friday, 30 March 2018

The Mineral Industry of Sudan (1)

(Mowafa Taib) - Sudan is one of the largest countries in Africa, with a diverse geology and large quantities of mineral resources

. Sudan was one of the leading gold-producing countries in Africa in 2014. a small number of mineral commodities were mined in the country, and mine output was not proportional to the size of the country’s mineral resources and reserves. In 2014, crude oil and gold were the country’s main mineral exports, along with modest quantities of chromite, petroleum products, and scrap metals. Other mineral commodities produced in Sudan included cement, feldspar, florite, gypsum, iron and steel, kaolin, laterite, manganese, marble, salt, silver, and zinc.

Seven mineral districts in Sudan were identified by the Ministry of Minerals as having good potential for mining operations. The Red Sea Hills area in northeastern Sudan has copper, gold, iron ore, rare-earth elements, silver, and zinc mineral occurrences, as well as black sands, garnet, gypsum, salt, and talc deposits. Estimates of major mineral resources in the Red Sea Hills area included 500,000 metric tons (t) of contained copper, 150 t of contained gold, 4,500 t of silver, and 1.9 million metric tons (Mt) of contained zinc. The Beyoda desert, which is located in north-central Sudan, contains feldspar, gold, iron ore, kainite (aluminum silicate), manganese, marble, mica, and silica deposits. The Jebel Marra volcanic field, which is located in western Sudan, hosts deposits of base metals, garnet, kainite, salt, and sulfur. The Jebel Abyad and Jebel Wahib regions in northern Wadi Hawar have the potential to produce bauxite, chromite, gold, and platinum-group metals.
The Ingessana polymetallic complex in the State of Blue Nile in southeastern Sudan has asbestos, chromite, gold, magnesite, marble, and talc occurrences. The nuba Mountains, located in South Kordofan, host important mineral commodities, including such metals as chromium, copper, gold, iron, manganese, and nickel; such industrial minerals as graphite, marble, phosphate rock, and talc; and uranium as an energy mineral. The Copper Pit mineral district, which is located in the State of South Darfur in southwestern Sudan, is prospective for copper, gold, precious stones, and uranium mining .

Minerals in the National Economy

Sudan’s real gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 3.6% in 2014 compared with 4.4% in 2013. In terms of value, the manufacturing sector, which included the electricity, mining and quarrying, petroleum, and water subsectors, increased by 15.2% and accounted for 24% of the GDP in 2014 compared with 10.4% and 21.6%, respectively, in 2013. The value of the petroleum sector, which accounted for 3.4% of the country’s GDP, increased by 36.5% in 2014 compared with an increase of 23.2% in 2013 despite a 6% decrease in the volume of crude oil output; that of the mining sector, which contributed 0.8% to the GDP, increased by 11.4% in 2014 compared with an increase of 34% in 2013; and that of the construction sector, which contributed 4.2% to the GDP, increased by 5.8% in 2014 compared with an increase of 2.0% in 2013 .

In 2014, Sudan’s mineral exports, which included chromite, crude oil and refined petroleum products, gold, and ferrous and nonferrous scrap metals, accounted for about 59% of total exports. Crude oil exports decreased in value and volume to about $1.1 billion and 11.1 million barrels (Mbbl), respectively, from $1.6 billion and 15.8 Mbbl, respectively, in 2013. Gold exports increased in value and volume to about $1.3 billion and 30.45 t, respectively, in 2014 from $1.0 billion and 24.81 t, respectively, in 2013. The United Arab Emirates received 88% of Sudan’s gold exports. Refied petroleum product exports increased to $163 million from $102 million, and other mineral commodity exports, which included chromite, decreased to $17.3 million from $18.9 million. Chromite exports by tonnage increased to about 42.9 t in 2014 from 17.3 t in 2013 and 2.6 t in 2012. Scrap metal exports, which comprised copper, iron, and lead scrap materials, totaled 10.4 t valued at $157,000 in 2014 compared with 50.0 t valued at $38,000 in 2013

Government Policies and Programs

Presidential Decree no. 22 of 2010, no. 22 of 2012, and no. 45 of 2013 designate the Ministry of Minerals as the Government agency responsible for mineral exploration and geologic surveys in Sudan and its territorial waters. The Ministry of Minerals implements Government policies and programs and promotes investment in the mining sector. The Ministry also issues mining permits, signs contracts on behalf of the Government, and monitors activities by mining companies throughout the country.
The Ministry of Minerals has branch offices at Atbara in the State of River Nile, El–damazin in the State of Blue Nile, Nyala in the State of South Darfur, and Port Sudan in the State of Red Sea. Additional offices were planned at El Obeid in the States of northern Kordofan, Gedaref, Gezira, Kassala, and in northern State.
The Mineral Resources development and Mining Law of 2007 states that the Government has ownership and absolute rights to explore for and mine all mineral materials in the country. This law also defies traditional mining (artisanal mining) as mining activities carried out by groups and individuals without the use of heavy machinery to a maximum depth of 20 meters (m) (Abd Al Rahman, 2014).
The Government, which completed the construction of the country’s fist gold and silver refinery at Khartoum in 2012, banned the export of unrefied gold in order to increase foreign exchange and the Central Bank of Sudan’s holdings of gold reserves. The Government claimed that 75% of gold
production by artisanal miners, who are responsible for 85% of the country’s gold production, was smuggled out of the country instead of being sold to the Government. Gold smuggling  was attributed to the unfavorable official exchange rate of the Sudanese pound against the u.S. dollar (compared with the unoffiial rate) that the Central Bank used to buy locally produced gold (Sudan Tribune, 2014).
The latest update on U.S. sanctions against Sudan, which were initiated in 1997, was on November 5, 2013. Investment in Sudan’s petroleum and petrochemical industries by U.S. individuals and organizations was banned by Executive Order 13412, which was issued by the President of the United States on October 13, 2006. The alleged use of revenues from petroleum sales to fiancé military operations in the Darfur conflct constituted the primary reason for the Executive order. U.S. individuals and organizations were banned from participating in the refining of South Sudan’s crude petroleum in refineries located in Sudan.


In 2014, the main increases in Sudan’s mineral commodity production included that of chromite (99%), salt (79%), feldspar (60%), kaolin (30%), refined gold (25%), and mined gold (about 5%). Notable decreases in mineral commodity output were for laterite (86%), manganese (66%), gypsum (16%), and marble (10%). Zinc output of 46 t was reported for the first time in 2014. Mica production was zero in 2014 compared with 500 tin 2013 owing to exhaustion of resources at the Sheriek Mines.

Structure of the Mineral Industry

Crude oil production was carried out by joint ventures of state-owned companies from China, India, and Malaysia with Sudan. The Government wholly owned three petroleum refineries, but the country’s largest refinery, Khartoum Oil Refinery Co. Ltd., was a joint venture between China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) and Sudan National Petroleum Corp. (Sudapet). The Government owned Sudanese Mining Corp., which in turn owned Ingessana Hills Mining Corp. and Sheriek Mica Mines Co., which produced chromite, gypsum, and mica.
The Government also owned Sudan Gold Refinery Co. Ltd. And the Ariab Mining Co. Ltd., which operated the Hassai gold mine in northern Sudan. Cement plants were privately owned.
The recent gold rush in Sudan created opportunities for the startup of several companies that supported various activities associated with gold production by an estimated 1 million artisanal miners. Sudan’s mining sector comprised 160 large scale mining companies, 190 small-scale mining companies, and 34 tailings-processing companies engaged in exploration.
Twelve large-scale companies, 43 small-scale companies, and 15 tailings-processing companies were active in minerals (mainly gold) production, and 2 large-scale companies and 6 tailings-processing companies were involved in pilot studies , additionally, 370 companies carried out general prospecting studies.
The Government awarded more than 350 small-scale mining licenses for the production of alluvial gold, chromite, feldspar, florite, gypsum, iron ore, manganese, mica, salt, silica sand, and talc .  Golden United Group (a group of private companies) focused on gold production, but it also produced some basalt and chromite through its subsidiaries—abu Rugia Mining, Alhamdeen Mining, Alhsour Mining, Exseer  Mining, Monas Mining, Rida Mining, and Wedian Mining. In February, the Ministry of Minerals issued licenses to nine companies from Russia to explore for and develop mining operations to produce black sands, chromite, gold, and other minerals. The Ministry predicted that these companies would begin pilot production within a short time despite their recent entry into Sudan’s mining market .
Commodity Review Metals

Chromium.—Production of chromite ore was carried out in the Ingessana area, which is located in the State of Blue Nile. Mineral resources were estimated to be about 1 Mt grading up to 60% Cr 2O3. Chromium occurrences were found in the Red Sea Hills area in the northeast, in the Nuba Mountains in the south, and in northern State. Chromite ore production by Ingessana Hills Mines Corp. almost doubled in 2014 to 61,334 t from 30,870 t in 2014 from the Ingessana Hills ophiolite in southeastern Sudan.
In the absence of production information from Ingessana Hills Mines Corp., the chromite production data in table 1 were based on the Central Bank of Sudan’s estimates, which appeared to be based on export data rather than on actual production, which might explain the discrepancy between chromite ore output reported by the Ministry of Minerals in 2012 and that reported by the Central Bank of Sudan.
Copper, Gold, and Zinc.—According to the Central Bank of Sudan’s latest statistics, the country produced 73,300 kilograms (kg) of gold in 2014 compared with 70,000 kg in 2013. Gold mining companies were responsible for 9,720 kg of the output in 2014 compared with 5,800 kg in 2013. Artisanal miners produced 63,655 kg of gold in 2014. The Government projected that gold production would increase to 80,000 kg in 2015 and 100,000 kg in 2016. Thomson Reuters GFMS Gold Survey estimated that mined gold production in Sudan in 2014 was 20,500 kg, which was much less than Government estimates.
The difference appeared to be related to the inclusion of gold produced by artisanal miners in the Government estimates. artisanal miners, who accounted for most of Sudan’s gold production, were required to sell their gold production directly to the Central Bank of Sudan, which in turn transferred it to the country’s gold refinery at Khartoum. Most of the gold produced by artisanal miners in Sudan was thought to be smuggled out of the country and consequently was not accounted for in the GFMS Gold Survey. The difference between Sudan’s gold production and its exports, which was about 43,000 kg in 2014, was held by the Central Bank of Sudan as gold reserves and by corporations and individuals as an investment.