Illegal gold miners flee from French Guiana to Suriname

21st May 2008, Comments 0 comments

French President Sarkozy's efforts to rid French Guiana of illegal gold miners have forced them into neighbouring Suriname, says the World Wildlife Fund.

21 May 2008

GEORGETOWN - French President Nikolas Sarkozy's efforts to rid French Guiana of illegal gold miners has forced the precious metal hunters into neighbouring Suriname, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said here Tuesday.

"Most of the French Guianese miners come to Suriname because of our open borders and because of our weak legislation," said WWF-Suriname Gold Mining Pollution Abatement Officer, Nathalie Emanuels, during a Guyana gold-mining conference being held in this former British colony.

Bertrand Goguillon of WWF-French Guiana explained that French Guiana refused to authorise new exploration and exploitation before a new management plan for the gold-sector is put in place at year-end. Existing gold-miners would, however, be allowed to continue their operations.

In February, the French President announced in Cayenne that at least 1,000 elite French troops would be deployed to that overseas department to rid the jungle of illegal gold miners, many of them from Brazil.

Official statistics show that the amount of illegal gold mined annually is about 10 tons, three tons more than what is officially declared to French Guianese authorities.

Goguillon, however, noted that French Guiana officially sells about nine tons of gold to mainland France and Switzerland.

"This shows that we need to have a better traceability of gold in the French market," the WFF-Guyana official said.

WWF is a Washington DC-based conservation organisation, focusing on fostering greater awareness about logging and mining in Guyana's Amazon jungle, as well as helping governments and natural resource exploiters put in place better management plans.

[AFP / Expatica]

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