Alexei Mordashov, the Russian billionaire and owner of mining company Nordgold, remains more than ever determined to launch the most destructive gold mining project “Montagne d'or” (Gold mountain) that French Guyana will ever endured. The joint project of Nordgold and Columbus Gold (Canada) is seeking now to get the license application to be filed at the end of this year. Given the delays in the investigation and public inquiry, the authorization to operate the mine could be granted in 2020, and production could begin in January 2022. However, Endangered Species International (ESI) is more determined to stop this horrific destruction of the Amazon forest, homeland of many tribes.
The project promises to be gigantic, unrelated to the often-clandestine small mines of most Guyanese gold prospectors. To access the mine site, the abandoned 125-kilometer road must first be rebuilt, creating new access to pristine areas. The new road will open opportunities to additional illegal activities such as deforestation, illegal wildlife and narco-trafficking, clandestine gold mining, and aggressive intrusions into the tribal lands. Such road poses an immense threat to many indigenous groups, who live in the hearth of their homeland, the Amazon.
The proposed mining site is huge: 2.5 kilometers long, Montagne d'or should be 500 to 800 meters wide and should sink up to 400 meters deep (the Eiffel Tower is 300 meters high). The area of deforestation including all installations combined, would directly destroy around 10 km2 of primary rainforest. Millions and millions of cubic meters of minerals will be transported and treated with cyanide to extract 85 tons of gold that Nordgold intends to find in 15 years. The industrial risk is significant due to the storage of millions of tons of cyanide sludge, a poisoned gift giving to indigenous people and future generations of the rainforest.
The mining site is located between an important protected area known as the Integral Biological Reserve (RBI) of Lucifer Dékou-Dékou created in July 2012. The reserve has 200 bird species, 39 bat species, 39 snake species, 39 amphibian species, and more than 1,000 vascular plants. Further, the mining site is within the Managed Biological Reserve and within known biological corridor of many critical species. At least 110 protected and threatened species are found on the proposed site including many birds, seven mammals and three plants. The site also hosts five plant species new to French Guiana, seven rare or endemic plants, as well as two fish species rare and endemic to French Guiana.
ESI is strongly opposed to this huge industrial gold mining project led by Nordgold that will only benefits outsiders (Nordgold - Russia and Columbus Gold - Canada). After making enormous profits and accumulate more wealth, the area will be left alone as an horrific environmental disaster for future generations. With your support, ESI is fighting back with all indigenous groups and all other local NGOs to stop this project and make it illegal in the near future. After all, we are in the 21th century “to make our planet great (green) again”, just to quote French President Emmanuel Macron. We will make sure he keeps his words as President.
Indigenous tribes, trees and biodiversity are more important than gold!
The majority of the gold used throughout history is currently stored in the form of ingots or jewelry. Only 8% of the gold extracted is used by the industry and 35% for the financial sectors. In 2016, it is estimated that about 20% of all gold mined is stored in central banks. In 2015, gold recycling provided three times more gold than industrial needs. So why should we let some billionaires destroy the amazon forest, pollute rivers and groundwaters, contaminate fish and wildlife with chemicals like cyanide for gold that will be stored in form of ingots? Basically, it is morally and ethically inacceptable.
Photos: The South American common toad (Rhinella margaritifera) and toucans (Ramphastos sp.) can be seen in the proposed mining site.
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What can you do?
Sign the petition to be giving to the French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron, who spoke previously in favor of this mining project before being elected, must take a final decision this year on the fate of this destructive project. We will also send petition and letters to the French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot and meet with him.
Spread the word around you; ask your friends and family to sign the petition and join us.
Support Endangered Species International in the fight to stop this outrageous and huge mining project, protect rainforest, and help indigenous tribes to defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures.
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Related link Illegal mining in French Guyana ravaging rainforest and homeland of indigenous tribes