Gold rush in Haiti – blessing or curse?

Panning for gold in Haiti
Panning for gold in Haiti / Photo: Ben Depp

Haiti has literally struck gold.  Potentially $20 billions worth of it, deep beneath its mountains, along with an abundance of silver and copper.  But will it be a blessing or a curse?  A new investigation from Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) reveals that positive reports in the media, mining companies, and Haitian government officials have been misleading.

Foreign-owned mining companies are making backroom deals so potentially good for the mining companies, and so potentially disastrous for Haiti, that the former head of Haiti’s state mining agency recently denounced them in an exclusive interview with HGW, calling on his government to either right the wrongs or “leave the minerals underground and let future generations exploit them.”

The ten-month investigation by a team of students, journalists and community radio members made startling discoveries, like:

• Almost 1,500 square miles (about 2,400 square kilometers) of Haitian territory – 15 percent of the country – are already under research, exploration or exploitation licenses or “mining conventions” controlled by US and Canadian firms.

• Newmont Mining, the world’s Number 2 gold producer and operator of the largest pit mine in the Americas, is heavily invested with Eurasian, and is considering at least five possible mine sites.

• Haiti’s former Minister of the Economy and Finances is now a paid consultant for Newmont.

• Two Haitian ministers recently signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Newmont and Eurasian that says – in violation of Haitian law – Eurasian and Newmont can begin drilling at one of their exploration sites. Haitian legislation states no drilling can occur without a mining convention.

• Nobody appears to be telling the communities in Haiti’s north what is going on, and what deals have been made behind closed doors.

Read the full article by Haiti Grassroots Watch here.

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