Efforts to ramp up Sudan’s gold mining industry came to a disastrous halt this week as the 131 foot deep Jebel Amir mine collapsed taking 100 lives.
Sudan had hoped to turn the country’s small-scale gold mining in the region to a major moneymaker, replacing the oilfields now claimed by the newly-independent nation of South Sudan. Some $2 billion was earned last year from gold exports.
Hopes were to produce about 50 tonnes of gold this year, making Sudan the 3d-largest gold miner in Africa, according to Reuters.
Thousands of artisanal miners began digging for gold until the mine collapse that also took the lives of 9 rescuers.
Local officials dispute the number of fatalities which were allegedly confirmed by an African Union / U.N. peacekeeping delegation (UNAMID) that has been attempting to keep peace in the still hotly-contested region among local ethnic groups, bandits and rebels.
At press time, responsibility for the condition of the mine or the welfare of the widows was not determined.
Meanwhile, in Khartoum, Sudan’s national assembly ratified the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance, adopted by the African Union Assembly in 2007.
The charter contains controversial provisions which allow the AU to intervene in member states to restore democracy.
Samia Habbani, a member of parliament, warned that the charter could be another "rope wrapped around Sudan's neck", while MP Ahmed Hassan Kambal stressed that signing the charter into law requires the country to have a "clean" human rights record which does not apply to Sudan.
A third minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, called the charter an opportunity that should not be missed adding that this step means African leaders have begun reform by themselves, mentioning that if Arab leaders took the same step, they could have prevented the eruption of the Arab Spring.