A rudimentary private gold mine in western Sudan has collapsed, killing 31 people and eight reported missing.
The Sudanese Mineral Resources Limited Company confirmed the report and said the collapse of the closed, non-functioning mine happened in the village of Fuja 700 kilometers (435 miles) south of the capital, Khartoum. It said there were also injuries without giving a specific tally.
The Darsaya mine near al-Nahud, a town about 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of Khartoum, was reopened after the government shut it down amid safety concerns. Shafts in the Darsaya mine had given way, leading to 31 deaths and injuries.
“Thirty-one traditional miners were killed because of a mine collapsing,” said Khaled Dahwa, the head of the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company in the West Kordofan region where Nahud is located.
Gold mining flourished across Sudan about a decade ago amid rising inflation in one of the world’s poorest countries. About two million traditional miners are involved in the search for gold across the country.
They often work in semi-legal mines across Sudan with ramshackle infrastructure in unsafe conditions. Despite these precarious conditions, they unearth about 80% of the tons of gold Sudan produces each year, according to official figures.
In 2020, the East African nation produced 36.6 tons, the second most in the continent, official data showed. In the past two years, Sudan’s transitional government has begun regulating the industry amid allegations of gold smuggling. But the country has been mired in a political crisis since a military coup on October 25. Mine collapses are common in African countries like nearby Congo.