by Evens Sanon and Danica Coto Associated Press, December 21, 2012 (AP). Originally at ABC News.
Haiti’s government announced Friday that it has awarded permits for the first time in the country’s history to allow two companies to openly mine for gold and copper.
The nation’s mining director, Ludner Remarais, said he hopes the move will bring a badly needed burst of money to the impoverished Caribbean country of 10 million people where many live on a $1.25 a day.
Remarais issued a gold and copper exploitation permit to SOMINE SA, which is jointly owned by Canadian company Majescor Resources Inc. and Haitian investors. Remarais issued a second gold exploitation permit to VCS Mining LLC, a North Carolina-based mining company with offices in Haiti.
The federal government is signalling a profound shift in its approach to foreign aid that could see Canada’s international development agency align itself more closely with the private sector and work more explicitly to promote Canada’s interests abroad. International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino will outline his vision for the agency’s future in an address to the Economic Club of Canada Friday morning (Nov 23), his first major speech since taking the job several months ago. The Canadian International Development Agency funds humanitarian aid and long-term development projects intended to help people living in poverty.
Mr. Fantino’s remarks will focus on the role private companies – particularly in the mining sector – can play in helping CIDA achieve its development objectives, part of a controversial change in emphasis for an agency that has historically been careful to differentiate between its work with corporations and non-governmental organizations.
Deep in Haiti’s northern mountains, a half-dozen supervisors at a mining exploration site spent their days playing dominoes at a folding table next to a helicopter pad. For weeks they waited in La Miel, off a dirt road deep in the countryside, for Haiti’s government to give them the go-ahead to search for the gold they believe is buried in the hills around them. Fig Newtons and water bottles filled the shelves of their staff tent. On a whiteboard, in scratchy handwriting, was a single-item to-do list for the week: Change $83,000 into Haitian gourdes.
A mile west, a team of locals with shovels widened a dirt road and lined it with a drainage ditch. They were paid by Newmont, the Colorado mining company working at La Miel, to prepare local roads for heavy mining machinery, which moved here when Newmont got permission to dig.
CBC’s “The Current” has a broadcast about precious metals in Haiti:
Haiti’s President, Michel Martelly, is anxious to welcome foreign investment. Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake of 2010 and remains the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere. World Vision estimates Haiti’s 10 million people live on an average income of less than 700 dollars a year.
But recent discoveries of precious metals in the country’s northeast have some residents feeling optimistic that their lives could improve. In fact, there’s talk of a Haitian gold rush with some estimates suggesting gold, silver and copper deposits worth 20 Billion dollars.