MAC: Mines and Communities

Future Mining Activities Cause for Concern in Suriname

Published by MAC on 2002-12-05

The bauxite mining plans for Suriname, spotlighted in the following article, are national in scope with a hydro-dam in West Suriname, expected to flood around 1200 square kilometres, diverting water from the Tapanahoni river, in order to increase the capacity of the existing reservoir. Six Indigenous Saramaka villages will be swamped and Suralco mining company will exploit the Bronsberg Nature Reserve - (for which the company had a preexisting concession). A correspondent for MAC, who has just returned from the area believes it will actually be searching for gold.

BHPBilliton has asked the Indigenous Village Peoples coordinating organisation, VIDS, to be its "partner in consulting the communities". before relocation - something to which they are strenuously opposed. So far VIDS has not responded to the invitation.

Future Mining Activities Cause for Concern in Suriname

De Ware Tijd, Paramaribo

5 December 2002

Indigenous communities in West-Suriname are insecure about the legal recognition and the rights to their land and living areas. Their concern is caused by the proposed mining activities in the area. The government has also not given any legal recognition to the indigenous communities. This is what a delegation of the Indigenous Village Leaders Association in Suriname (VIDS) concluded, who visited the villages of Apura, Sektion and Washabo from 7 until 10 November.

The aim of the visit was to consult the communities about the proposed mining activities in the areas. The Association thinks that too little information is being given to the population, while the developments will have enormous influence on the living areas and traditions of the villagers.

The local population agrees that things must be different than in the 1970s and that this time, the local people must be consulted about the plans of the government. The villagers are also insecure about the legal recognition and the rights to the land and living areas. Especially in those villages that are located in the so called 'green zone', which the government does not legally recognise.

During the visit, sociologist Gemin-Cirini informed each community about the impact the activities of the multinationals BHP Billiton and Suralco may have on the social-economic development of the three villages and the possible effects that may flow from them. According to the VIDS, the local population feels supported and expressed its confidence in the respective village councils. The intention is to inform both the national and the international community about the results of this visit, which the organisation considers a success.

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