Mining in Sudan: Alternatives for Oil

By: Ahmed Alhaj (Site Admin)


Khartoum, Sudan (sudanow.info.sd) - Sudan is one of the African countries which enjoy formidable geological diversity. Its geological map comprises of many types of rocks ranging from sedimentary rocks, to basal rocks and igneous rocks. Due to the geological structures which date back to millions of years together with the movement of tectonic plates and continental and oceanic sliding, huge mineral materials of economic value were formed in Sudan.

These mineral potentials are distributed according to their environment of origin where ophiolite rocks are found in the Red Sea, Blue Nile, Qalalnahal and northeast of Nuba Mountains’ areas where these areas are rich of minerals of economic value such as chromite, magnesite aspestos and talc.

A report by the Sudanese Ministry of Mining said Sudan belonged to the Nubia-Arab shield which is known for its richness of minerals. The report said that minerals basically cover %46 of Sudan’s area including the Red Sea, Eastern Sudan, Bayouda desert, Nuba Mountains, Al-Angasana, Butana area, northern Khartoum, Darfur, Qalalnahal, North Kordofan, Bahral-Ghazal and Equatoria.

The minerals in Sudan include gold, silver, copper Zinc, lead, iron, chromium, manganese, gypsum, marble, and building materials.

Sudan’s Geo-biological Structure:

Geological studies conducted so far have indicated wide geological diversity in Sudan in terms of rock formations, structures and compositions. In light of that, Sudan’s general geology in terms of rock structures can be divided into two major sections. These two major sections are:

  • Sedimentary rocks

  • Basalt rocks


Sedimentary Rocks:

The sedimentary rocks are formed of two groups including the Nubian Sandstone and Um Ruwaba Formations. These formations are of great economic importance as they contain a high reserve of underground water, hydrocarbon materials and industrial minerals.

The basal rocks cover wide areas in Sudan that may reach %60 spreading over the area between Nahral-Neel and the Red Sea. They also exist at Nuba Mountains’ area and extend northwards until Wadi-Hawar in western Sudan and similarly in south Sudan. These rocks contain the major sites of minerals, the reason why they have enjoyed enough studies.


Gold exploration and exploitation in Sudan dates back to the Farah and Turkish eras. Gold used to be explored by use of traditional methods at Nahral-Neel, Blue Nile and northern Sudan. The ancient sites discovered at those areas were about twelve sites.

Gold is found at al-Mazroub area where Gossanic evidences containing gold ore and other related mineral have been discovered. Geophysical studies have been conducted over an area of about 13.5 square kilometers extended at longitude 4.5 kms (north/south) and latitude 3 kms (east/west). These studies have proved presence of extensions of Gossanic evidences in depths that are estimated at 150 meters inside the ground. Gold ore and other related minerals have also been discovered at Block No. (5) in northeastern Sudan between latitudes (20-00, 21-00 degrees) and longitudes (15-35, 30-34 degrees) east. The medium of gold metal in the soil and canals deposits amount to 300 and 6oo particles in a million respectively.

Geological studies and researches have also proved existence of gold at many places in the country including the Red Sea Mountains, south of Blue Nile, north Sudan (from Halfa northwards until Atbara on east and west of the Nile), North and South Kordufan State, South Darfur State and others.

Gold in Sudan is formed in three types of rocks. These are: -

  • Schist Rocks:

 They are formed due to transformations of the volcanic and sedimentary rocks. They emerge in forms of Quartz veins and accompanied by some other minerals such as copper, zinc and iron. Such type of rocks is found in east, north and south Sudan.

  • Gossan Rocks:

Gossan rocks have been discovered at Aryab area at the Red Sea Mountains. Gold at this area is of high concentrations that are some areas reach 100 grams/ton, namely in Silica Barite layers. In 2003, the gold production at this area amounted to around 5106 kilograms in addition to 2844 kilograms of silver. Recently, gold has been discovered at the Nuba Mountains’ area.

  • Sedimentary Gold:

This type of gold is exploited along the River Nile and its tributaries, particularly the Blue Nile, by citizens who adopt traditional means of exploration. Similarly is the case in northern Sudan.

The Sudanese General Authority for Geological Researches has focused during the past ten years on gold exploration in addition to other strategic minerals. New sites for gold have been discovered in Nahral-Neel, the Red Sea, Blue Nile and the Northern States together with the Nuba Mountains area.

In light of its available information on gold sites, the authority has divided the area, which lies between the Red Sea and the River Nile, into concession blocks. Some of these concession blocks have actually been given to investors to begin exploration while others are still under negotiation.


Chromium mining in Sudan started in the early 1970s. it is currently produced at al-Angasana area in Blue Nile State. Its reserve is estimated at around two million tons with a concentration percentage of about %48 to %60.

There are economic quantities of chromium in ophiolite rocks at Kurmuk and Gaissan areas. The most important chromium deposits are found at Al-Angasana Mass and they have formed in tectonic depth including dunite and harzburgite on the western part of the mass. The chromium deposits have many shapes, including: -

  • Lentiform

  • Bar shape.

There are also many other areas in Sudan where chromium is found. These include Ounaib, Oushaib and Jabel Rahib areas. New sites have also been discovered at the Red Sea area, Nuba Mountains and the northern state. In Blue Nile State, Al-Majara Golden Factory has started to operate in concentrating the chromium ore in partnership between China and local investors, with an estimated capital of 10 million U.S Dollars. The factory’s production is estimated at around 400 tons of chromium of international market standards per day.


Copper is found at western Sudan and the Red Sea mountains. Recently Sudan’s Belton Company has conducted additional studies at Hufrat Al-Nahas area that have confirmed what has been previously proved on existence of cooper at the area and provided important indicators on presence of gold at the area.

Studies have also proved existence of copper, lead and zinc at Abu Samar area and indicated that the reserve increases at the depth.


Manganese crude is found at the Red Sea, northern Sudan and south Sudan. Al-Wady Minerals Company exported 1100 tones of manganese to Saudi Arabia in 1999. There are also other companies which have ventured this field where the production is expected to rise soon.


Asbestos crude is found at Al-Fao area where its reserve is estimated at around 16.200.000 tons with average fiber of %2.7. at Qalal-Nahal area, the asbestos reserve is estimated at around 4.050.000 tons with average fiber of %1.17. Asbestos is used at the rural areas of Khartoum north in filling in house floors and whitening the walls.


Magnesite crude at Um Kitairat area in Nuba Mountains has been estimated at around 10 million tons, while Qalal-Nahal area its reserve has been estimated at about 20 million tons. Additionally, the mineral’s reserve at the Red Sea area has been set at 500.000 toms with % 35 of magnesium dioxide.


Gypsum is found along the Red Sea coast, particularly at Ber Abet north of Port-Sudan. Its confirmed reserve is estimated at around 220 million tons and it is of high quality. It is presently produced to meet the country’s needs of construction materials. It is also used in cement industry in the country. In 2003, gypsum production amounted to around 13304 tons.


Talc is found at Qalal-Nahal area which enjoys a reserve of around 25 million tones of mineral, including 49.5 percent talc and 41.5 percent magnesite. Talc is also found at Al-Angasana Mountains in Blue Nile State, the Red Sea Mountains at Halayeb Province, Nuba Mountains and Barbar. Recently talc has been discovered at Al-Butana area and Jabel Al-Rahib in northern and western Sudan respectively.


Mica is found at Nahral-Neel State west of Al-Shiraik area. Its reserve at this area is estimated at around 147378 tons. Around 700 tons of this mineral has been produced until 1971.


Salt is extracted with quantities currently enough to meet the local consumption. Its production reached around 61,096 tons in 2003. There are many companies and individuals operating in this field such as the Sudanese Salt Company, Ba Aboud and others.

Al-Atroun (Sodium Carbonate):

Al-Atroun or Sodium carbonate (also known as washing soda or soda ash) is generally found at various areas in north-western Sudan, namely in North Darfur State besides Al-Atroun, Al-Silim, Al-Daliba, Al-Nakheel areas and others.

The importance of sodium carbonate emanates from the fact that it is used in many industries such as non-bio chemical industries besides glass, soap and caustic soda industries. Considerable quantities of sodium carbonate have been exported to Egypt and Yemen in the past years.

Marble and granite:

Marble and granite crudes are found in many places in the country including the Red Sea, Kassala and Geddarif in eastern Sudan and Barbar and Atbara in central Sudan. Granite is also found at Al-Sabalouqa area in Khartoum State, Nuba Mountains and others. The importance of marble and granite emanates from the fact that they are used as decoration stones and in construction. Marble is regarded as the major component in cement and lime industries. Marble and granite were exported to Belgium, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and others.

Iron is found alongside the Nubia sandstone which covers an area of 900 keliometers extending to Abu Hamad town and way down to Shandy in Nahral-Neel State. The minerals’ area lies between longitudes 00’ 22 -4’21 north and latitudes 45” 31- 15” 31 east. The crude mineral has been divided into three types in terms of color- the black ore which covers most of the Nubian sandstone areas, the red ore which more concentrated, and the brown ore which is of medium concentration compared to the other two types.

Government keen to develop mining sector:

The plan of the Sudanese Ministry of Mining for 2011 tends to increase the contribution of minerals in the Gross National Product (GNP) from an expected one billion U.S Dollars by end of 2010 to three billion Dollars, i.e. %300. The ministry is planning to achieve this goal through concentration on gold and other minerals to ensure direct increase in the state’s revenues- the state’s share in the companies operating in the field and other relating fees- which constitutes %15.

The major axis of the plan reflects a number of basic programs to upgrade the geological, explorative and production operations to achieve the projected increase and the objectives of the comprehensive national plan to face the standing challenges. The plan also adopts a strategy to observe good governance and sovereignty of law through monitoring regulations targeting the mining operations via the operating companies.

The plan further includes developing, organizing and controlling the traditional mining, institutional building and capacity building together with follow up and evaluation.

The plan, as well, focuses on structuring the ministry and its affiliating strategic units to implement the institutional prospect for the mining sector through achieving better distribution for the ministry’s sovereign powers in a manner that complies with the nature of each section and its embodied occupational abilities.

The ministry also plans to support the supervising and researching abilities and establish an investment unit with the involvement of the private sector to enhance the economic revenues and upgrade and develop the performance of the companies to which the government contributes.

The axis of the sustainable development in the ministry’s plan included programs tending to attract local and foreign investments in addition to programs tending to establish a comprehensive database that includes all the geological information and to intensify the exploration operations to reduce the mining cost and risks on the investor.

The ministry further plans to implement the mining concessions, namely the Atlantis program (2) concerned with extracting the treasures of the Red Sea, and achieves a considerable breakthrough in field of diversifying the international relations to attract investments and appropriate technologies.

The ministry’s plan focuses on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and combating poverty through capacity building and increasing the mineral production to increase the national income and expand the investment opportunities.

It further tends to upgrade the performance of the traditional mining in Sudan’s different states and develop the scientific research mechanisms and analysis at labs to provide a direct scientific support for the production operations.

Investment in Minerals:

Geological experts have affirmed that Sudan enjoys formidable mineral resources including gold, iron, gypsum, chromium, copper and uranium. They urge the government to work out a strategy to exploit these minerals instead of relying on one resource which is petroleum. A number of these experts expressed belief that the exploitation of the mineral resources would help Sudan to achieve comprehensive development as these minerals are found in many places in the country.

In this respect, Mirghani Hassan Ali, a Sudanese journalist, told Sudanow that regarding the investment in the field of minerals, the British Administration has conducted a study and specified the sites where these minerals are exactly found in Sudan.

He said the study was included in a guidebook titled “The Geological Map”. The study included all Sudan’s mineral resources of petroleum, gold, cooper, chromium, cement etc…, adding that the ministry has shown keeneness about the content of this study.

He explained that Sudan has set a rich economic plan for the first time during the independence era, namely during the rule of President Aboud. However, he said the plan did not include any signal to Sudan’s mineral resources, though that era witnessed the first phase of the establishment of Al-Rosaires Dam, which has greatly boosted to the hydro-electric generating and helped in expanding the Gezira and Managil agricultural scheme.

A five-year economic plan was set up during May era and then it was adjusted to be known as “the Gradual Work Program”. the first attempts of petroleum exploration was also started during May era, namely through the U.S Chevron Company which drilled around one hundred oil wells in South Sudan that proved existence of petroleum with commercial quantities. Chevron, however, ended its work in Sudan shortly before April uprising in 1985 due to the war in the south.

He went on to say that despite the fact the political parties ruled the country after the collapse of May regime, still they have failed to attach  due concern to the country’s economic issue.

Nevertheless, the current Sudanese Ministry of Mining has exerts remarkable efforts to extract Sudan’s mineral resources where it has initiated serious steps to establish Sudan’s comprehensive geological map according to the new borders of each state.

In this respect, Director of the ministry’s Information Center Najat Ahmed Mohamed, said that the technical team has managed to establish a digital database and that they are utilizing the map in geological mapping.

She added that they fist tended to update the map, disclosing that they were embarked on making Sudan’s mineral map.

She further said that the new map would contain all the information about all the geological structures in Sudan and that the ministry has managed so far to survey 3700 maps and transform them into paper maps.

Establish share-holding company with a primary capital of around 100 million U.S Dollars, to operate in all fields of mining with the involvement of the private sector, she said, adding that the company is supported with potentialities and experiences together with modern technologies.

Regarding the iron mining, Sudanese Minister of Mining Abdul-Bagi Al-Jailani said that his ministry is currently working to increase revenues of the minerals other than gold to one billion Dollars this year.

In a recent meeting with a number of geologists, the minister disclosed that the number of the persons involved in gold exploration is continuously increasing, adding that the ministry has embarked on practical steps with the Bank of Sudan and some other trends to establish a gold refinery in the country.

He said that the random activity of gold exploration has contributed around 300 million Dollars to the GNP and that there were projects for iron mining that are not less important than gold mining.

 The minister said iron is found at Nahral-Neel State, Wady Halfa and Bajrawiya in the northern State, Abu Tolo Mountains in Krodofan State and the Nuba Mountain.

He added that the ministry received investment offers from many companies from Australia, India and Germany to invest in the field of iron mining, pointing out that there was a study proving that there were great quantities of iron ore in Wady Halfa that are estimated at around 800 million tons.

The minister, meanwhile, disclosed his ministry plan for the coming period, announcing that great amounts of phosphate have been discovered at the Red Sea, South Kordufan and the Northern States in addition to potassium in north of Khartoum where its quantities are estimated at about 90 million tons.

Regarding the mica mining project at Abu Shiraik area in Nahral-Neel State, the minister said the project faces some technical and administrative problems, adding that the ministry was currently promoting for the project through many windows.

He said there were other sites for mica ore, which is internationally demanded, explaining that there are many area which are rich of mica including Al-Butana, Bayouda desert, Sinnar and Blue Nile State and the Nuba Mountains.

Regarding copper mining, the minister said Ariab Mining Company (AMC) would operate in copper and zinc mining in northern Sudan as they are found at the areas where gold exists.

He, in the meantime, said the mining operations of copper at Hufrat al-Nahas area in Darfur have been ceased due to the previous security issues at the region, explaining that, after the security has prevailed in the region now, they would work to resume the mining operations at Hufrat Al-Nahas area.

There are many proposed investment projects in this field by many companies, the minister said.

Other Mining Activities in Sudan:

Regarding the other mining activities in Sudan, the minister said that though they were currently focusing on one mineral which is gold, but they were promoting for other minerals such as iron, chromium, black sands, talc, Granite, salt, fluoride, construction materials, cement and lime.

He added that those minerals are found at many sites in Sudan, saying that the ministry was working to prepare those sites and promote for them to the investment companies.

The minister further said that the ministry priorities included supporting to states so that each state would work out a detailed geological map for its minerals investment locations.

He said the ministry was also working to tighten its control over the operating companies in the field of mining to control gold and other minerals production, adding that the Bank of Sudan purchased around 10 tons of gold.

He reviewed the incentive polices adopted by the State to purchase the gold and combat its smuggling.

There are around 128 companies operating in the Sudanese gold sector, while about 37 companies operate in chromium mining and five companies in mining crude iron, the minister said.

He further said that the ministry has adopted a number of measures and regulations in coordination with other concerned authorities to control importation of mercury which is used in gold extraction at the mining areas, adding that the ministry set the legal framework to organize the use of mercury and national mining and that it has employed its offices in the states to monitor the movement and distribution of mercury.

Environment and Mining:

The Ministry of Mining has reiterated its concern with the operations of environment conservation and its commitment to the international standards that should be observed at the mining areas in this respect.

Consequently, the ministry has formed mechanisms to deal with the mining wastes to conserve the environment, the minister said, adding that the ministry has working teams that conduct declared and non-declared visits to the mining sites to take samples and analyze them to avoid possible risks on the environment.

Agreements and talks for minerals extraction:

A number of countries have expressed interest to invest in minerals in Sudan. Example of these countries include: -


During the visit of the Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to China last June, China expressed commitment to contribute to the development of Sudan’s mining sector where the two sides have agreed that the Chinese government would encourage Chinese mining companies to invest in the mining field in Sudan.

Additionally, the Sudanese Ministry of Mining has granted the Chinese WZR company a preliminary license for gold mining at the Nile water with the focus on the Blue Nile and the Nile Valley.

The minister, meanwhile, said that new agreements and memos of understanding would be signed with South Africa, Ethiopia and Tanzania to invest in granite mining field, which would create new job opportunities.


A Russian delegation has recently visited Sudan to discuss investment in field of minerals.

Saudi Arabia:

 An agreement has recently been signed between Sudan and Saudi Arabia to explore and extract minerals at the Red Sea, a study of the project of Atlantis (2) has been completed and the two countries would jointly invest on. The Red Sea is rich of minerals such as gold, copper and cobalt.


A memo of understanding was signed with an Egyptian Sabayek company to extract manganese ore in Sudan. It was agreed that Asek mining company would conduct the necessary exploration studies for the site of the crude materials in Sudan.


The Moroccan International Mines Company (Manajim) has also signed an agreement to invest in the field of mining in Sudan. The company is has great mining experience as it operates in seven African countries.

United Arab Emirates (UAE):

The Sudanese Ministry of Mining has signed an initial agreement with the UAE Mining Company, an affiliate of Al-Qais Holding Companies Group in the UAE, to explore for gold at Block (64) in the Red Sea State. The agreement also stipulated cooperation in field of training of technical cadres and exchange of geological information.

South Korea:

 South Korea has expressed interest to invest in Sudan in fields of gold, iron and zinc mining and other minerals. The two sides are currently working to establish a partnership to discover further minerals and provide training and lab services.

Ireland and the Maldives:

A delegation of Irish Companies and the Maldives Company haves recently visited Sudan and expressed interest to work in field of gold mining in the country.


Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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