Sudan has handed out more than 500 mining licenses to produce chrome in the border state of Blue Nile, state news agency SUNA said on Monday, shrugging off violence from an insurgency.
Blue Nile borders Sudan's arch foe South Sudan and is like the nearby South Kordofan state, scene of an armed insurgency. Fighting with the Sudanese army has displaced more than 600,000 people in both states, according to the United Nations.
Despite the violence, the ministry of mining handed out more than 500 licenses to more than 55 firms to produce chrome, Mining Minister Kamal Abdellatif SUNA said, without giving a timeframe.
The government also wants to build a chrome processing refinery to improve the value of local production, the minister said. He gave no details.
There is no reliable data on local chrome production. Sudan had targeted for 2011 a production of more than 50,000 tonnes but has released no final data.
Sudan is already boosting gold production and hopes to sell gold worth up to $3 billion this year. The African country has been struggling with an economic crisis since losing three-quarters of oil production when South Sudan became independent last year.