May 31, 2011

Gold mine expansion

In May 2011, La Mancha made a decision to move forward toward construction of a mining plant starting in the fall of 2011. The Hassai mine complex has over a dozen open pit mines. A few of them have more gold and copper that can be extracted.

This expansion requires the construction of a 165 kilometer water pipeline from the Nile River. It will be 50 cm in diameter. The pipeline will cost about $44 million US. Until now they have been using rainfall water stored behind a dam, and piped water from boreholes.

Also required is more electricity, and a 77 kilometer line will be built to connect with the existing Atbara - Port Sudan line. The mine will need 34 megawatts of power. The powerline will cost about $19 million US. Until now they have been using onsite generators.

The overall costs for expansion will be about $187 million US.

In addition, a document published by LaMancha states that more people will be needed to work on the expanded mine site.

18.9.3    Accommodation
The existing Hassai camp is located approximately 3 km from the current heap leach operation. This camp currently accommodates 600 personnel (expatriates and locals) and includes accommodation, mess hall, bakery, local market and recreational facilities. On-site communication allows mobile phone and internet access.
A new accommodation village will be developed for the CIL and VMS plants, to accommodate workforce requirements. A 200 person camp has been allowed for in the capital cost estimate by Sedgman for the CIL operation, while accommodation for a further 500 persons is included by AMEC in the VMS concentrator estimate.
 The first camp for the concentrator operations includes 126 labourers, 74 maintenance men and 10 professionals. The mine operators currently hire Hadendowa Beja.

 Gold reserves will eventually end, and the mines will be abandoned. La Mancha developed this interesting chart that shows metal production may end in only 14 years.

Source material for this article comes from various documents on

May 26, 2011

Keren celebrates its catholic history

On May 29 each year, many Catholics go to Bilen, a town just outside Keren, Eritrea to celebrate Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. It is a huge celebration, with a religious procession, and much joyous feasting.

Eritrea was once an Italian colony. Most Italians are Roman Catholics. A Roman Catholic community was established just outside Keren in the 1800's. The Italian nuns built a shrine to Mary, inside a large baobab tree.

Christians honour Mary because she submitted herself to the will of God in obedience, to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and to give birth to Jesus. You can read this story in the Injil, [Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-24] Sometimes this honour is made so important that Mary is actually worshiped [usually by Roman Catholics]. This is a mistake - only God should be worshiped.

An event occurred in 1941, during World War II. The British army was fighting the Italian army. The British were advancing from Kassala, Sudan into Italian Eritrea.

As some British airplanes dropped bombs, a few Italian soldiers hid themselves in the shrine in Baobab tree. A bomb hit the tree, but did not explode. Presumably they thought the shrine and Mary protected them, and so they celebrate  this "miracle" each year.

A tourist describes his day at Keren for Festival of Mariam Dearit [Mary of the Boabab.]
Also described here. 

May 25, 2011

Flood control project in Tokar

The Tokar delta is a flood plain in Sudan, just north of the Eritrean border. The Baraka River flows when the rain comes to the Eritrean highlands. Khor Baraka brings water and silt each summer (July and August) to this agricultural region. Various flood control systems are needed to ensure the safety of villagers, and the non-destruction of roads. The European Union has funded some work. From March, 2011 comes this expectation:

[In the] Red Sea State,  the Tokar Delta Recovery Project is working hard to bring about a substantial transformation.

Major activities under way there include:
The construction of an all weather crossing at Sheddin of the season river that floods the delta. This is the largest work undertaken by the project. It will be completed in May, 2011.

Reconstruction of earthwork banks at critical places in the Delta to ensure that the flood water distributes to the places it is most needed. Clearing land and marking the landholdings to bring another 5,000 feddan under cultivation free from mesquite in addition to the 10,000 feddan cleared last year.

All work now under way will be completed before the floods come so any modifications can be made in the next dry season [fall 2011].

Read more!
SPCRP - Model Projects Flyer No. 13 March 2011

May 24, 2011

UN water project improves Arabat farms

More than 1,000 farmers living in northeast Sudan now have increased harvests and income due to water irrigation equipment provided through an initiative managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In Arabaat, a rural community 30 kilometres west of the coastal city of Port Sudan, farmers used to rely solely on rainfall for their subsistence crops in the absence of equipment to irrigate their land.

Through the Sudan Recovery and Rehabilitation Programme, the farmers received generators and pumps, enabling them to tap into rich groundwater sources and cultivate vegetables and other crops all year round, which they can also now sell at markets in Port Sudan.

"There is a big difference now, says Aisha Sharief, who heads one of the Arabaat farms. "Nowadays we have permanent irrigation and alternate crops like sorghum and vegetables." She also grows tomatoes, okra and arugula.

Hussein Musa in charge of getting the farmers' produce to market and says that things have improved for them. "In the past some people used wells run by merchants who took 50 percent in profits and farmers earned little. Now each farm has a well."

As part of the programme, farmers also participated in management training and formed the Arabaat Development Association enabling them to pool resources and supervise other development projects in, for example, water provision and fisheries.

"Previously women were not represented in leadership but now they are part of the way we do business," adds Aisha Sharief, who is a member of the Association.

Sharief is one of the approximately 1,000 who benefited from the five-year programme to support recovery of those in rural areas affected by the country's civil war that ended in 2005.

The US$72 million programme was managed by UNDP on behalf of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan, funded by the European Commission and Norway.

 From all Africa

May 23, 2011

President Bashir to visit Red Sea State in June

On Friday, May 20, 2010 the governor of the Red Sea State, Mohammad Tahir Eilla announced that  President Bashir will visit the region upcoming June.  He will inaugurate a number of health and educational facilities.

President Al Bashir will inaugurate of Desalination Plant in Port Sudan, new electrical supplies in Saukin and Sinkat alongside with inaugurating distribution of ambulances, mobile hospital and distributing of up to 50 wheels [wheelchairs/scooters?] for handicapped. 

Governor Eilla met in Khartoum with the President to arrange the meeting. He also submitted reports about development in the east. One report addressed preparation for the rainy season in the Red Sea State Another report was on investment and progress of work in the new industrial area in Port Sudan. That report indicated that more than 14 thousand houses have been involved in electrical network.

Removing the mesquite bush

The mesquite bush was introduced into Sudan in 1917, to stabilize the land in order to reduce the advance of the desert. It was planted near the agricultural regions at New Haifa [Atbara River,] the Gash River delta north of Kassala, and in Tokar region [Khor Baraka.]

The mesquite bush can grow so vigourously that it will take over agricultural land. It is hard to remove because it has large thorns on the branches, and because it generates thousands of seeds. Continued vigilance is required even after a plant is removed to keep it from growing again in the same place. Even if removed, the wood stems are generally thin, making mesquite undesirable for converting into charcoal.

Sudan Vision has an long article that points out the reasons why commercial removal of the mesquite bush was successful in New Haifa, but not successful in the Gash delta or Tokar delta regions.

At least three reasons for the failure to remove the mesquite tree are revealed. One is that land ownership was not identified. Another is that the mesquite had invaded huge areas of land, hundreds and thousands of feddans. [One feddan is a measure of size, just about equal to one acre.] And another one is that follow-up was not completed to ensure the removal of seeds.

Read the whole article to get a good understanding of the difficulty of farming in east Sudan. Photo from the United Nations.

More information on work in the Tokar Delta, including a 2 page paper on mesquite management.
Many North Americans buy Mesquite wood chips or flavouring to add to BBQ cooked meats.

May 22, 2011

Analysis: Nuba Mountains vs Khartoum

The BBC has written an article describing the situation in the Nuba Mountains. Since the people there are black Africans, they are distinctly different from the Arab leaders in Khartoum. This ethnic difference may lead to a new conflict, a civil war in the north of Sudan.

Some Beja think that they too will be targeted by the central government, that their distinctive cultural elements would be lost as a pan-Arabic, pan-Islamic citizenry is encouraged.

The BBC article outlines some history: "The SPLA is often seen as a southern movement, but its stated aim was to reform the whole country, creating a new Sudan, a secular state where diversity was respected.

"This resonated very strongly with many Nuba. The fighting in the Nuba mountains was particularly fierce. In 1992, a jihad or holy war was declared, allowing northern troops and Arab militias to kill even those Nuba who were Muslim.

"Human rights organisation Africa Watch likened the attacks on the Nuba to genocide.

"A ceasefire was signed in 2002, but it is no surprise that feelings against President Bashir still run high"

May 21, 2011

PICTURE: Bisharin man

Bisharin man at Aswan. Many universities have historic document collections. This photo [circa 1921] comes from the University of Cambridge in England.
original source at:

May 20, 2011

Shield for sale- $675US

As described on Oriental-Arms. com.

Up for sale is this very good and rare hide shield of the Beja people residing in North Sudan and Eritrea, along the shores of the red see. The shield is round, 23 inches in diameter with two semi round recesses and with a 6 ½ inch tall central dome. It is made from heavy hide, most probably buffalo hide. Very good condition. Old repairs on the hide. The carrying leather strap is torn. An authentic rare item.

Buffalo hide?? Any buffalo in Bejaland?? What do you think it's made from??

May 19, 2011

Sudan and Ethiopia to boost dawa

As north Sudan establishes its vision of a state without the constraints of a large Christian minority, Khartoum is increasing its Islamic emphasis. Dawa is the proselytizing and propagation of Islam. It means to "issue a summons" or invitation.

In Khartoum, Khalil Abdullah, the State Minister at the Ministry of Guidance and Endowments  met with a visiting Ethiopian delegation headed by the Chairman of the Higher Council for Islamic Affairs in Ethiopia, Sheikh Ahmadadin Sheikh Abdullah. They explored ways of boosting joint cooperation between the Sudan and Ethiopia in domains of Hajj, Umra, Endowments, Propagators and pertinent issues.

May 18, 2011

Eritrea celebrates National Day on May 24

President Omar Hassen Al-Beshir of Sudan sent a message of congratulations to President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea in advance of the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Independence Day celebrations.

President Omar Al-Beshir wished good health to President Isaias, as well as peace and prosperity to the Eritrean people.

Just a week ago, [May 13] Sudan and Eritrea agreed to abolish entry visas, opening their common borders for free movement of peoples and goods both ways. The two countries have also agreed to facilitate goods and commodities traffic, without restrictions, organise inter-trade and remove all border crossing points that hinder the movement of citizens of the two countries.

[COMMENT] May 24 Independence Day is the most significant National Holiday in Eritrea. On May 24 1991 EPLF forces entered Asmara, re-claiming independence, after a bitter 30 years war against Ethiopian military occupation.

Independence Day is celebrated nationwide in Eritrea, but the most spectacular place to be is in Asmara, where the 1991 victory is celebrated with one week of cultural shows in Cinema Odeon and Bahti Meskerem, carnival on the main streets of Asmara, community feasts, live music on Harnet Avenue, and a colorful celebration at the Asmara Stadium on May 24.

Eritrea loves a big show in the stadium!

May 17, 2011

Red Sea State meets with BC Chairman

Port Sudan - The Governor of the Red Sea State, Dr. Mohamed Tahir Ailla, received in his office Sunday Assistant to President of Republic and Chairman of Beja Congress, Musa Mohamed Ahmed, at the end of his several-day visit to the state.

The meeting discussed the cooperation between the state and the Beja Congress and the need for coordination between all political forces secure the internal front and to confront the challenges facing the country.

Member of the Central Committee of the Beja Congress, Mohamed Al-Hassan Haddab, said following the meeting that the visit dealt with the coordination between the National Congress (NC) and agreed on the need to unite the visions for boosting the development in the Red Sea State.

From Sudan Vision

May 11, 2011

Report: What do the Beja Congress want?

The historical background, current analysis and requests are described in a 3 page pdf article. Published in the USA.

Titled "The Struggle of the Beja People in Eastern Sudan: An Analysis by the Beja Congress"
Download the file directly.

Read the hosting page. The link is in the words "An analysis" [para 5]

The IRD hosted a discussion in early May about east Sudan. We posted about it a couple of weeks ago.

May 9, 2011

Egypt and Sudan to discuss Hala'ib region

Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Karti visited Egypt last week. Discussions covered such topics as water irrigation and views about the International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Sudanese President Bashir.  Karti ended his trip to Egypt with a number of agreements to activate the freedom of movement, trade, ownership and residence.

For readers of, we were pleased to see that a proposal has been established to deal with the Hala'ib triangle.

The Halayib proposal involves setting up a common administration to develop the area for the interest of the two countries, according to a spokesperson at the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Khalid Mousa. The proposal will be discussed in the near future, he adds.

The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also disclosed that Egyptian Prime Minister ordered authorities to release 73 Sudanese arrested in Egypt. Mousa explained that those Sudanese had entered the Egyptian territories when they were digging for gold through traditional mining.

From Sudan Vision.

On the mapping of the Halaib Triangle. Does the USA-based National Geographic make correct maps?

This Sudan Tribune article points out that Minister Karti had previously caused tension with the Egyptians. It describes, [from summer 2010,] some of the same issues between Egypt and Sudan. Worth a read.

May 3, 2011

Eritrean road along Red Sea Coast

The Eritrean Ministry of Information reports that the coastal road construction is progressing. The plan is to eventually link Port Sudan, Sudan  and Massawa, Eritrea by a good quality road.

Q’rora-Massawa route expected to generate significant impact on completion

Massawa, April 24, 2011- The completion of Q’rora-Massawa road is expected to generate significant impact upon tourism, agriculture and commerece, according to the manager of the Red Sea Construction Company, Mr. Mebrahtu Mael.

Speaking to Erina, Mr. Mebrahtu outlined that the construction of the road has reduced the travel time needed between Massawa and Sudan to few hours and that it is expected to increase the trade activities between Sudan and Eritrea.

On his part, Mr.Ogbe Gebreslasie, overseeing the company’s northern projects noted the significance of the route, out of which only 30 Km. are remaining, and that it is expected to raise the access to social services in the villages and towns it goes through.