Economics - Canada - Caribbean islands - Development - Ecology - Francophony
Iamgold forced to relinquish gold nuggets from Guyana
Nicolas Sarkozy kills the canadian giants’ dreams of a gold rush in a natural sanctuary
When one knows about the number of deaths and physical malformations caused by both the legal and non-legal exploitation of gold, the question cannot be overlooked. The South American French territory does not intend to keep quiet on the subject of ecology.

Progress in the exploitation of minerals in French Guyana. The French President rejected the planned project of a gold mine on the Kaw territory by the Canadian giant IamGold, on Tuesday. A decision applauded by, MP, Chantal Berthelot (Socialist Party of Guyana, PSG) as well as environmental protection agencies but widely critisised by the MEDEF (the French Association of Private Companies) and local miners.

Hiding behind a French subsidiary under the ironic name of CBJ Caïman (reference below), with respect to the mining project on the Kaw territory, including other numerous mining projects in French Guyana, the Canadian giant IamGold, otherwise known as Cambior, hit again. The group prides itself for having invested heavily in the Camp Caïman project and even confirm their intention to explore all areas to protect and promote their interests, in a press release. By deciding not to agree to this exploitation, Nicolas Sarkozy takes a steady step in the direction of an ecologically oriented government whilst preparing his official visit to Cayenne, the Guyanese capital, on the 11th and 12th of February.

When one knows about the number of deaths and physical malformations caused by both the legal and non-legal exploitation of gold, the question cannot be overlooked. The South American French territory does not intend to keep quiet on the subject of ecology.

A future for biodiversity or work for the Guyanese ?

While nature protection agencies were jubilating over this environmentally friendly decision, the local MEDEF and the Federation of Mining Operators, FEDOMG refuse to accept it. They denounce this decision which according to them does not relate to the needs of the Guyanese people. Fabien Reynaud, a mining operator in the hmong cocoa village says, « we will go on with our misery, with our ever increasing inhabitants, with our illegal goldwashing and our companies closing down everyday.” The project was targetting 340 direct jobs and 560 indirect ones in a territorry that registers an unemployment rate of about 26.5% . The experts decided otherwise. Employment is not to be created by digging in the Kaw mountains to the detriment of rare species and the tropical flora and fauna.

Jean-Louis Borloo, French Minister in charge of ecology and sustainable development commented : « We studied this project extensively and within the confines of environmental protection policies and found out that the Kaw mountains is an exceptionally rich area in biological terms and could even be considered as a natural sanctuary. Despite the quality of the IamGold project, it cannot be conducted in such a place. I demanded an end project to this whilst strengthening the level of protection for the site. »

A page has been turned and the question of employment in Guyana has not been shoved aside and will to be dealt with by President Sarkozy and the MP, Chantal Berthelot, on his next official visit.

[1] a « caïman noire » is a protected endangered reptile found in rare places like the Kaw swamps.


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