Protesters Urge Ethiopia to Cancel Billionaire’s Gold Mine Permit

Precious Metals
Gold Investing

Protesters in Ethiopia are asking the government to revoke a gold-mining permit from a Saudi billionaire to stop alleged pollution.

Protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia region have rallied together to persuade the government to withdraw a gold-mining permit from Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi, in order to stop alleged pollution.

On April 30th, demonstrators began setting up blockades just 358 kilometers south of the capital in Shakiso, but protests have now spread to the towns of Ginchi and Nekemte in western Oromian as well, said Addisu Bullalla, a spokesman for the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).

Protesters are adamant that Mohammed International Development & Research Organization Companies’ (MIDROC) license to mine the yellow metal be retracted.

“[The demonstrations] will spread all across Oromia if the government doesn’t cancel this agreement, bring MIDROC to justice, and make MIDROC pay compensation for the damage they have caused,” Bullalla said.

Similar protests took place at this mine three years prior, becoming part of massive anti-government rallies that eventually resulted in the resignation of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn earlier this year.

Members of the OFC allege that MIDROC dumped chemicals from its operations into rivers that are used by residents and livestock for drinking water. They claim that ingesting these chemicals have resulted in birth deformities and animal deaths.

Both MIDROC’s CEO Arega Yidaw and the company’s environmental director, Negussie Assefa, declined to comment on the situation, with the former dodging questions from the media via phone calls, texts and emails.

Mines Ministry spokesman Bacha Faji stated that MIDROC’s license was first awarded in 1997, with a renewal taking place late last month for a period of 10 years. Within the license, the company must give 2 percent of all profits to the local community.

Addressing the current situation, Faji stated, “we don’t want the community harmed chemically.”

He added, “we are now consulting,” in reference to the fact that the ministry has conducted an environmental and social-impact assessment of the mine’s operations.

Currently, MIDROC produces 4.5 metric tons of gold at the Lega Dembi mine in Shakiso.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Nicole Rashotte, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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