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Poor little rich Haiti to be fleeced of copper-silver-gold via Caracol deep-water port

May 15, 2012

by Dady Chery, Haiti Chery

A turtle swims in the pristine waters of Caracol Bay, one of the world's most beautiful bays, set to become a deep water port to facilitate the plundering of northeastern Haiti’s plentiful mineral riches. President Martelly says the port will be “built with the U.S. government’s help.”
Show me a corporate boss who calls Haiti the “poorest country in the Western Hemisphere,” and I’ll show you a con artist preparing to fleece Haiti. Likewise, show me a Western technocrat who bemoans Haiti’s “dramatic deforestation due to charcoal production,” and I’ll show a bio-pirate or vandal preparing to wreck Haiti’s remaining cloud-forest and mangrove-forest ecosystems.

It turns out that the real plan for Haiti’s northeastern region – especially the Caracol Bay area – is one that was hatched by Canadian mining corporations, with the U.S. and South Korean sweatshop zone being a side project and distraction. If this mining plan is given a green light while Haiti is under foreign occupation, it will permanently strip the country of much of its mineral, cultural and ecological wealth.

If this mining plan is given a green light while Haiti is under foreign occupation, it will permanently strip the country of much of its mineral, cultural and ecological wealth.

In a recent interview with Canada’s Financial Post, Majescor Resources Inc. CEO Dan Hachey was effusive about Michel Martelly’s installment as president because he expects Martelly’s policy of mimicking the Dominican Republic (DR) to be a boon to the mining sector.

Hachey enthusiastically noted that “30 years ago, there was no mining sector to speak of in the Dominican Republic ….

Dominican Republic Pueblo Viejo mine on Aug. 7, 2009; one would be hard put to find deforestation due to charcoal production that looks quite as bad as this. – Photo: Mining Journal
“In that short period of time they’ve seen the development of the Pueblo Viejo Project [by Barrick and Goldcorp], which is one of the world’s largest gold deposits – and is pretty much a neighbor of ours.

“They’re going to be coming on with production this year.”

This glowing picture omits the fact that Barrick and Goldcorp have come under strong popular opposition in the DR. In a country where 20 percent of the population lacks access to drinking water, these companies are accused of polluting 2,500 cubic meters of water per hour with the vast quantities of cyanide needed to process 24,000 tons of ore a day by opencast – or open-pit – mining. Open-pit mining is banned by the European Union. Activists in the DR have joined forces with a broader group called Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (OCMAL) that has launched a campaign to end this practice in the region.

There is great concern that the DR’s biggest water reservoir, which is close to the mining operations, is continuously at risk of cyanide contamination, since stories of spills and massive fish die offs caused by mining companies are legion. Barrick and Goldcorp have also been accused of dynamiting mountains and destroying Taino Indian archaelogical sites.

In this April 10, 2012 photo, Haitians watch as workers build a road through the mountains that will lead to an exploratory drill site in the department of Trou Du Nord, Haiti. Two mining companies are drilling around the clock to determine how to get the gold, silver and copper out. – Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery, AP
Like the Pueblo Viejo region of the DR currently under exploitation, the spot being eyed for mining by Majescor in Haiti – a 50-square-kilometer area called the SOMINE property – is part of broader region, replete with archeological sites, situated along a metal-rich mountain ridge running from southeast DR to northern Haiti. This was formerly known simply as the Massif du Nord but has become the “Massif du Nord Metallogenic (or Mineralization) Belt.”

SOMINE is an acronym for Société Minière du Nord-Est S.A. and is described in the mineral trade sheets as a “Haitian affiliate mining company.” It is 66.4 percent owned by Majescor, with the rest being owned by Haiti’s elite. Majescor is still a relatively small company that conducts mineral surveys.

The SOMINE property is surrounded by other mining properties owned jointly by Majescor and much larger concerns like Eurasian Minerals and Newmont Mining. Once Majescor’s surveys are complete, it plans to find a big partner, like Barrick, Eurasian or Newmont to handle the extractive part of the project.

Curiously, the area of the SOMINE property was initially surveyed as early as “the 1970s by the U.N. Development Program, with some very good results [but the project was not pursued, then] there was a feasibility study done by the Germans [Bundesanstalt fur Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR)] in 1980, and there was further drilling done in the 1990s by Canadian junior [mining companies],” recalled Hachey.

During the 1980s, the area was explored again by the UNDP and also surveyed by the French Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minière (BRGM), both of which reported finding only copper.

The metal-rich mountain ridge running from southeast DR to northern Haiti was formerly known simply as the Massif du Nord but has become the “Massif du Nord Metallogenic (or Mineralization) Belt.”
The official story is that an abundance of copper had until recently obscured the fact that the area’s ore is also rich in silver and gold, and this was discovered from Majescor’s recent prospects of Douvray, Blondin and Faille-B. However, the story could just as well be that the mining executives were biding their time and waiting for a “stable” non-nationalistic government to take effect before initiating their projects.

The mineral rights to the area were assigned to SOMINE under a Mining Convention executed on May 5, 2005 – valid until March 9, 2020 – between this company and the post-Aristide coup government. After this, it did not take long for Haiti’s mountains to start to glitter. For example, an exploration of the Faille-B prospect in 2007 found a gold vein that averaged 42.7 grams of gold per ton of ore (g/t) over 6 meters, including values of 107.5 g/t of gold over one meter.

According to Hachey, April 11, 2012, assays from Blondin found:

  • 0.45 percent copper over 96.5 meters;
  • 0.3 percent copper over 12 meters, including 0.61 percent copper over 1.5 meters; 154 grams of silver per ton (g/t) over 12 meters, including 869 g/t silver over 1.5 meters.

March 13, 2012, results from Blondin discovered:

  • 72.4 g/t silver over 15 meters;
  • 16.9 g/t silver over 113 meters, including 6.2 g/t silver over 1.5 meters; 0.43 percent copper over 113 meters, including 4.44 percent copper over 1.5 meters.
In April 2012 an EMX-Newmont joint venture and the Haitian government signed a Memorandum of Understanding that allows exploration drilling while a Mining Convention is being ratified to permit development. Under this new MOU, the Savane La Place gold prospect is the first project selected for drilling. – Source: http://www.eurasianminerals.com/new/Haiti.asp
Feb. 1, 2012, results from Douvray discovered:

  • 255 g/t silver over 13.5 meters, including 2,069 g/t silver over 1.5 meters; 0.35 percent copper over 13.5 meters, including 0.52 percent copper over 1.5 meters; 0.02 g/t gold over 13.5 meters, including 0.04 g/t gold over 1.5 meters;
  • 277 g/t silver over 13.5 meters, including 1,428 g/t silver over 1.5 meters; 0.18 percent copper over 13.5 meters, including 0.52 percent copper over 1.5 meters; 0.04 g/t gold over 13.5 meters, including 0.04 g/t gold over 1.5 meters.

These highly concentrated deposits of copper, silver and gold should reasonably represent a new found wealth for Haiti at a time of dire need of resources for the country’s reconstruction. But if the DR is to serve as an example, Haiti will not benefit from its minerals.

These highly concentrated deposits of copper, silver and gold should reasonably represent a new found wealth for Haiti at a time of dire need of resources for the country’s reconstruction. But if the DR is to serve as an example, Haiti will not benefit from its minerals.

In the DR, Barrick owns 60 percent of the Pueblo Viejo gold mine and Goldcorp Inc. owns the remaining 40 percent. To get a sense of the scale of the greed, one need only consider that currently the Pueblo Viejo mine is slated to produce 1 million ounces of gold per year at a cost of only US$20-$50 per ounce, making it one of the lowest-cost gold mines in the world.

Hachey comments with evident enthusiasm, “What we’re most excited about is that we found some silver, which was never really realized before. It’s the first silver discovery in Haiti.

Majescor has found fabulous riches in the 50-square-kilometer SOMINE property in Haiti’s Massif du Nord Mineralization Belt.
“Part of the reason why it was never really discovered was that historically there was so much copper prevalent – there’s a lot of outcropping at surface. The people who did the work before did not do much testing, even for gold.

“The geology is a little complex for a copper porphyry, but in a good way. The surprises that we’re getting are all good ones.”

As major draws for a big mining partner to this next phase of the project, Hachey is advertising that, unlike Port au Prince, which was destroyed by the earthquake, Cap Haïtien is a pleasant place for a Canadian mining executive and his family to come to. In addition he notes that there are plans for “the construction of a deep-water port at Caracol,” only 15 kilometres from the SOMINE property and near Cap Haïtien.

The textile factories’ contributions to the degradation of Caracol Bay should be trivial compared to the damage from opencast gold mining and construction of a deep-water port.

This first official announcement of a deep-water port for Caracol explains in part why there has been no effort to mitigate the ecological effects of the massive free-trade (sweatshop) zone inaugurated in March 2012 in that area: The textile factories’ contributions to the degradation of Caracol Bay should be trivial compared to the damage from opencast gold mining and construction of a deep-water port.

Update

Monday, May 7, 2012, Le Matin – Martelly announces that the construction of a port will soon start in Fort-Liberte [near Caracol], in the Northeast. The port will cost US$179 million and is supposed to be “built with the U.S. government’s help,” but it will likely be entirely owned by U.S. concerns.

Recommendations from Haiti Chery

Dady Chery grew up at the heart of an extended working-class family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She emigrated to New York when she was 14 and since then has traveled throughout the world, living in Europe and several North American cities. She writes in English, French and her native Créole and holds a doctorate. She can be reached at dc@dadychery.org. This story first appeared on her blog, Haiti Chery.

 

13 thoughts on “Poor little rich Haiti to be fleeced of copper-silver-gold via Caracol deep-water port

  1. Guest

    I feel that you are cherry picking what to report on in your stories…. ie:

    did you know that:

    "Those permits, for 50 square kilometers (31 square miles), were negotiated in 1996 under President Rene Preval and require the firm to hire Haitians whenever possible.
    "

    and

    "Bottom line: Haitians should get $1 out of every $2 of profits, compared with about $1 out of $3 that most countries get from mining firms.
    "

    Reply
    1. @LACEDINdotCOM

      they bought the company that owned those permits they were not originally used for what they will be using them for now, and why is it fair for haiti to get half of what they own. Those people need jobs too, they should be teaching the haitian people to mine for themselves . . .

      Reply
      1. Guest

        Have you seen the pictures from the exploration site? it looks like almost all Haitan workers… Haitian engineer…etc

        ..and if Haitians did own 100% and did nothing with it? How much wealth does that add to the country? How many jobs does that create? How many children does it feed?

        Reply
  2. Leslie Murray

    thank you for this, I'm up in Vancouver and we're trying to hold Goldcorp accountable and spread the word about what they are doing in other countries. Keep the stories coming!

    Reply
  3. Guest

    Foreign investment is not a bad thing… Think of how many Haitans standard of living will change due to all the jobs this could bring.

    Then we have this part:
    "Haitians should get $1 out of every $2 of profits, compared with about $1 out of $3 that most countries get from mining firms. "

    So it sounds like this is a fair deal that has been well constructed.

    Without this effort… the minerals would sit idle for how long?? Let's bring in some much needed revenue and jobs for Haiti!

    Reply
  4. Haiti

    Coming in with 1$ and leaving with a more realistic figure of 35$ isn't investment, it's robbery and it's exactly the same as all the parasite NGOs absorbing all the relief money. The small fraction of relief money that the RedCross didn't decide to steal… I mean "hold onto" for other disasters is sitting in political limbo and some of it is in the hands of Bill Clinton's bank account. NGO's in general only spend money on water bottles, steak dinners, photography equipment, operational salaries, web hosting and new SUV's. With what was found and is soon to be robbed on Haiti's soil was known well before any earthquake (Exxon Mobile knew and was geologically surveying Haiti for years prior). Now all can see why all these traditional thieves were so eager to militarily invade Haiti in such quick succession. Blue helmeted rapist, NGO's, Bill Clinton and a Clown of lesser evils as president are the last thing Haiti needs right now. Your premise is like offering a thirsty man a bottle of water in exchange for his well. I don't doubt that "investment" is coming to Haiti real soon and unlikely to be rebuked by the current neo-colonial government.

    Reply
  5. Guest

    "Your premise is like offering a thirsty man a bottle of water in exchange for his well. "

    What good is a well if you cannot get water from it……………. you will die of thirst-

    What if someone had a means of getting you water from that well…….everyday…….

    Which would you choose……. ? I personally would form a friendship and drink fresh, cool water on a daily basis.

    Reply
  6. Haiti

    The point is you only get one bottle and "friendship" didn't bring you to my well. I'd prefer Haitians did this one themselves and court "friendship" when their not on their knees.

    Reply
  7. Guest

    I'd imagine this 'could' bring thousands(?) of jobs… that could mean 1000s who go from lower to middle class… not to mention also what it would bring to Haiti in taxes…fees…etc

    If it were the $1 for every $3 that most countries get it would be one thing… but $1 for every $2 AND bringing jobs and revenue seems like a no brainer to me

    Reply
  8. shellyma

    I am not even in Haiti and I think that you are full of sh*t, because at the end of the day the rich keeps getting richer while the poor fight with each other to get the measly scraps you give them. Yea, "Haitians will get $1 out of every $2 of profits, compared with about $1 out of $3 that most countries get from mining firms. " ,but How much will these big mining companies make from these minerals…. and as for "friendship" what does "friendship" really gets you? An opportunistic person ready to pull the rug from under you when you turn your back.

    Reply

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