Home » Wagner-Linked Miner Halts Sudan Operations Amid Conflict

Wagner-Linked Miner Halts Sudan Operations Amid Conflict

by Oluwatosin Alabi

Tensions have been escalating in Sudan for the past five months, culminating in a battle for control between the army and a paramilitary faction known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The United Nations reports that this strife has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions.

In 2021, Al-Sawlaj acquired a gold tailing-processing facility from Meroe Gold at a deal worth $1.8 million. The US Treasury had previously sanctioned Meroe Gold for its purported ties to the Wagner Group. The European Council, earlier this year, hinted at a connection between Al-Sawlaj and Meroe, branding the latter as a “facade for the Wagner Group’s Sudanese operations.” While Al-Sawlaj wasn’t sanctioned directly, the company fervently denies any association with the Russian entity.

Gold mining holds significant economic weight in Sudan, with international entities like Australia’s Perseus Mining Ltd. and Dubai’s Alliance for Mining Co. playing a substantial role. However, as per the Sudanese Finance Ministry, a major portion of the country’s gold production is illicitly exported, typically to overseas processing hubs.

Both the RSF and Sudan’s army have considerable interests in the nation’s gold sector. Human-rights organizations and activists accuse these forces of smuggling significant quantities of the precious metal out of the country. Since the conflict’s inception on April 15, roughly 2 tons of gold have been produced. In contrast, the previous year witnessed Sudan exporting gold worth over $2 billion, equivalent to 34.5 tons.

As global eyes monitor the situation, the halt in operations by such a significant player in the gold industry underscores the devastating economic and human impact of the ongoing conflict in Sudan.

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