Artisanal miners panning for gold in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains [©AFP]
By Juliana Siapai E. Anikpara
YAMBIO, 24th August 2011 [Gurtong] - Ezo County of Western Equatoria State (WES) has been assessed to be full of diamond and gold minerals by an expert from South Africa; the representative of the County to WES Legislative Assembly Hon. Joseph Alfred Tindiri has disclosed to Gurtong media.
Hon. Joseph Alfred elaborated that it’s Ezo County, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central Africa Republic (CAR) where the diamonds were first discovered in Biki River at Bagidi Payam of Ezo County in WES during the Sudan civil war and gold was realized at Andari in the same Payam.
The honourable member was informed by the expert that the diamond is 97% best among other diamonds worldwide. According to the expert, diamond deposits exist along the particular River.
He said that DRC was best known for diamond and Ezo being at the border has shared big number of diamond deposits. According to the assessment, a glass of the diamond will build south Sudan for a decade. Now South Sudan has the confidence that if the oil resources are depleted, then it will open the exploitation of the diamond, gold in Ezo, Western Equatoria and Gold in Kapoeta County of Eastern Equatoria. The diamond, Gold and forestry are the main natural resources so far discovered in WES.
Hon. Joseph Alfred also disclosed that the same expert who assessed the diamond was the very person who traced and further proved beyond reasonable doubt that the gold was of higher quality in the international market.
The South African mining expert whose name remained anonymous in this article because the community claimed to have no documentation bearing the assessment that took place in 2003, confirmed that he was sent by the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLA) to assess the quality of the diamond and the quantity of the gold and also assess its value in the international market.
The community further told the Gurtong reporter that the assessment was carried out during the Liberation struggle and they were expecting the exploitation to start so that they would benefit from it, but waited in vain as the government paid less attention.
The community is demanding the government to start the exploitation for them to benefit, this will enable them to improve the State education sector and to boost the economy of the locals.
Meanwhile the Governor of Western Equatoria State H.E Bangasi Joseph Bakasoro has agreed with the Ezo Community. He confirmed that diamond was discovered in Ezo, but he said that the State was scouting for support from international experts (geologists) to reassess on the type, quantity and quality of the diamond.
Bakosoro has also disclosed that the State has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese experts and that china has agreed to send experts who will reassess the quality and the quantity of the diamond, gold minerals and other natural resources underground.
He said that the memorandum did not talk about exploitation, but if a second assessment states that there are diamond deposits, then the State will report the issue to the national government so that they discuss ways of exploitation.
The Governor further said that the exploitation will boost the economy of the State and enable it to implement other projects without the help of the National Government.
In a series of follow ups on the issue, the State government spokesman who is also the State Minister of Information Mr. Gibson Bullen Wande has reiterated that the experts from china will arrive in WES in September. He said that the team of the experts (geologists) will also look on the issue of the gold and other natural resources that are not yet discovered.
Hon. Joseph Alfred Tindiri said that the management of the natural resources falls under the State Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources. However, the community believes that the diamond is under direct supervision of the Government of South Sudan.
Before the new discovery, Western Equatoria State was best known for Agriculture, but has now become the leading in diamond, gold and forestry.
Garamba forest ,the biggest in the DRC extensively covers the WES County of Maridi and it plays a big role in attracting rainfall.
Maridi County receives rainfall throughout the year apart from 2 months. The County is at the green belt just like the Magwi County in Eastern Equatoria State. The County was also a source of food during the 21 years of freedom struggle in South Sudan. However the Lord Resistant Army (LRA) operation at the border of South Sudan, DRC and Central Africa Republic (CAR) paralyzed food production.
The community called upon the government to reduce taxes on consumable being imported from DRC and CAR to enable the victims affected by the LRA operations to afford living in Maridi.