Sudan has lost effective control over its gold deposits. Moscow expands its presence in the country and gets more involved in mining by using corrupt ties with the military junta in Khartoum. Such relations establish colonial relations between Russia and the region. Russia ensures protection of the regime and its worldwide recognition in exchange for getting an access to African resources. The interests of the local population here are thrown under the bus.
The Darfur Bar Association has confirmed the presence of the Russian company mercenaries implicated in alleged atrocities in Central African Republic. The Wagner Group mercenaries appear to have been active in South Darfur since late 2021. The mercenaries are mainly accused of attacks on artisanal gold miners in Um Darfur locality, close to the border with the Central African Republic. In addition, Russia was given some preferences in the mining.
Sudan is Africa’s second largest gold producer. The production, however, is often driven by unregulated, artisanal mining, and routine gold smuggling across international borders is a constant problem. It is estimated that around 50%-80% of Sudan’s gold is smuggled out of the country. It is also suspected that proceeds have been used to finance the internal conflict.
The RSF, commanded by Deputy Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo from the Rizeigat tribe originally from Chad, has been long associated with the gold mining control in Darfur.
The RSF has built up a vast business empire that both captures a vast part of the country’s gold industry, and has huge interests in many sectors of the Sudanese economy. The anti-corruption NGO Global Witness published a report in 2019 about the financial networks behind the RSF.
Hemeti’s visit to Russia in March this year was “arranged by the Russian Wagner mercenaries in order to find a way out for their ally in Sudan, and to guarantee his power preservation so that they can continue to plunder the country’s resources.
In such a way the Kremlin continues its expansion in Africa. Sudan’s scenario echoes Mali, where the Russians also gained access to gold deposits. This mechanism and schemes are similar to the ways Al Qaeda gets funds due to gold transactions in Africa.
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Despite the sanctions imposed on Russian gold trade, Moscow plans to circumvent these restrictions through transactions from third countries. However, in the case of Sudan, Russia also receives political support from Khartoum, including at the UN level, where Sudanis likely to support the Kremlin’s initiatives, and recognize the occupied Ukraine as part of Russia. Russia is expected to ship stolen Ukrainian grain to Sudan and to provide the Wagner Group security services as its payment for gold.
Therefore, Moscow is determined in creating an alliance of authoritarian regimes to oppose civilized democracies, by protecting and legalizing them in international institutions. Today, Russia has already formed a pro-Russian axis CAR-Sudan-Eritrea.
Hemetti-led Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have already established strong cooperation with the Wagner private paramilitary company close to the Kremlin. The RSF leader, however, ambitions to get more Russian weapons for his militiamen.
Last week the Sudanese Company for Mineral Resources announced that it had provided the state treasury with more than 45 million dollars in ten days, an unprecedented amount. The company said in a press statement that it was able to procure roughly 100,200 kilograms of gold from the traditional stock exchange in the Gold Building in Khartoum.
The current amount of gold prepared for export is unprecedentedly high as the company procured more gold in ten days than country usually exports in one year.
Gold export is important for Sudan’s economy. In an interview with Radio Dabanga’s Sudan Today program, Dr Hasan Bashir, Professor of Economics at El Nilein University in Khartoum, explained that export volumes could have been 10 times the size of current exports and stressed on the continued smuggling of large quantities of gold from the country.
Gold can also be found in North and South Kordofan, Darfur, Northern Sudan, River Nile state, and other places along the Nile River and Blue Nile River. Other mineral reserves in the country include chromite, gypsum, phosphates, zinc, lead, nickel, aluminum, and cobalt.
At the moment, Sudan contributes roughly 90 tons of gold to the global market per year, making it the 10th largest gold producer in the world. Most of this gold is mined in the Hassai Gold Mine in Red Sea state, where iron ore and other base metals are also mined. Its official Owner is La Mancha Resources (40%) and Ariab Mining Company (60%).