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Morocco reopens the Rif Mines to fight illegal immigration

In this abandoned area, the sub-Saharans who stormed the Melilla fence last June were hiding
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REUTERS/JON NAZCA  -   Migrants run towards the fence separating Morocco from Spain

A few days before the onslaught of sub-Saharans on the Melilla fence on 24 June, Moroccan gendarmes had chased them from their camp on Mount Gourougou, causing them to move towards Iksane in abandoned mines. "It is difficult to know what happened on Black Friday," European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson told a session of the European Parliament that considered the assault on Melilla on Tuesday 24 June, in which at least 23 people were killed, according to official sources. Some 2,000 migrants tried to jump the fence that day, recalls El Confidencial. After the tragedy of 24 June, Moroccan agents carried out further raids in the area to expel the remaining migrants in Iksane and transfer them to the south of the Kingdom.

The Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination (CEDRE), which depends on the Spanish Ministry of Equality, has called for a review of the agreements with Morocco on immigration, following the assault by sub-Saharan immigrants on the Melilla fence on 24 June. CEDRE also calls for a firm "commitment" from the Moroccan and Spanish authorities to legal, orderly and safe migration, in line with the Global Compact on Migration agreed in December 2018 at the Marrakech conference.

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AP/BERNAT ARMANGUE - Image of migrants near the border between Spain and Morocco

Morocco will promote the occupation of the caves of Mount Iksane, abandoned after the end of the Spanish protectorate, with bulldozers, trucks, miners and engineers, which today without abandoned caves that sub-Saharan migrants used as a refuge, after almost 40 years of stoppage. As confirmed by New ES Euro, the Société d'exploitaion des mines du Rif, a subsidiary of the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONYHM), has just launched an international tender for the total acquisition of iron ore deposits. The tender will end on 1 November next, while the public opening session will open on 2 November, where the Moroccan Ministry of Mines will open the bids and sign a 50-year concession with the winning investor.

It is a fact that the mining sector is one of the most important in the Kingdom and one of the sectors that has the greatest impact on the country's GDP. That is why this year, not only have they maintained their position at world level, but they have also increased the number of investors and the capacity to attract them. Faced with this situation, the Kingdom's Ministry of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development has created a mineral extraction plan that by 2030 will generate more than 1 billion dollars more than the previous year's turnover. According to official statistics, the mining sector creates a total of 40,000 jobs both directly and indirectly and on an economic level, the sector contributes 10% to the economy, with a contribution of 80% of exports in terms of volume and 20% in terms of value. Therefore, the mining sector plays a key role in the economic development of both the country and the African continent, as well as the opportunity to promote the development of mining activity in the different regions of the country.

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REUTERS/JESÚS BLASCO DE AVELLANEDA - African migrants sit on top of a border fence during an attempt to cross into Spanish territory, between Morocco and the enclave of Melilla

The measure aims to combat illegal immigration, reduce the Nador region's dependence on the smuggling trade with Melilla and compete with the new iron ore mines that Algeria has sold to China, say Moroccan police sources who declined to confirm whether this issue was discussed during the high-level meeting between senior Spanish and Moroccan security officials.