Montagne d’Or is a mining project in French Guyana, managed by the Compagnie Minière Montagne d’Or (CMMO), an outgrowth of Nordgold and Columbus Gold. The goal is to extract around 85 tons of gold from a quarry located in between the two parts that form the non-intervention forest reserves (RBI) of Lucifer Dékou-Dékou. Recently, it came under the scrutiny of the public after the publication of a WWF report criticizing the economic viability of the project. It is also condemned for the high environmental risks it poses though it is in a zone where open pit mining is allowed. CMMO is committed to creating a “responsible quarry”, but this would only curtail the environmental issues.
Survey of Guyanese Population on the Montagne d’Or Project
The project is currently still in its development phase and public acceptance will be key to its approval. Recently, a survey by IFOP for WWF found that 81% of the Guyanese people considered the project to bear a severe environmental risk and 69% were opposed to the project. A key argument of the CMMO in favor of the project is its impact on local employment. Indeed, it states that it would create 750 jobs during the operating phase, from which more than 90% could directly go to the Guyanese people. This is definitely a strong argument in this French region where unemployment was as high as 22% in 2017. However, this is a rather short-term view: the project is expected to last 12 years and one can wonder what will happen with the employees after the site closes. Moreover, it raises a more general question regarding public spending. The project could receive between 177 and 420 million euros from the French state, which could also be used to finance more long-term activities, such as investment in education or public infrastructure, badly needed in French Guyana. Finally, it shed light on an interesting feature of today’s world, where a lot of us want high-tech products- which are very demanding in gold- but nobody wants a quarry in his or her backyard.
Ruben Haalebos, Statistical Analyst – Sources: Beyond Rating, IFOP, INSEE