Gold smuggling from Guyana increases Suriname gold exports

Suriname small-scale miners exported US$914M of gold last year – some gold smuggled from Guyana

Stabroek editor On June 19, 2012

(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – The small-scale gold mining industry exported close to 19,000 kilograms of gold in 2011, at least on paper. The total value of those exports was over US$ 914 million. They yielded US$ 9.2 million in royalties and close to 22.3 million in taxes for the state.

Not all gold exported by the small-scale industry is mined in Suriname. Neighbouring Guyana and French Guiana are plagued by serious smuggling of gold, which is transported to Suriname. Royalties in Suriname are 2.5 percent lower compared to the 5 percent levied in the neighboring countries, which makes it far more attractive to smuggle the gold to Suriname.  

The Foreign Currency Commission, which reported these figures, also states that the small-scale gold mining industry dominates gold mining in Suriname in contrast to the Rosebel Goldmines operations of Canadian multinational IamGold, whose production level did not exceed 12,000 kilograms in 2011. However, the state earned a lot more from IamGold, namely US$ 146.4 million, because this figure includes taxes on returns and income tax.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Hok estimates the actual annual production of the small-scale and industrialized gold mining industry to be close to 30,000 kilograms. “We should expect production to rise when we’re through with our negotiations with IamGold,” Hok tells de Ware Tijd, referring to the current negotiations on the planned US$ 700 million expansion investment by Rosebel Goldmines. Increased production may be visible this year already because expansion mostly goes a lot faster than putting up an entirely new mine.

Within three years more gold will be produced when Surgold, a Newmont-Alcoa joint venture, becomes operational. The Minister admits that negotiations with IamGold and Surgold are taking a bit longer than he had expected. “We’ve had some progress in the negotiations. Both the Surinamese government and the companies had hoped to have concluded their business by the end of this month. However, we have agreed that we’ll be talking a bit longer. We’re not at loggerheads, we just haven’t ironed out all details,” says an optimistic Hok.

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  • Cyril Balkaran  On 06/21/2012 at 3:26 am

    In neighbouring Suriname the Small scale Gold mining Industry turned in 19,000 kg of gold to the state authorities that valued some US $914million dollars for 2011. In addition a Canadian Company IamGold turned in another 12,000 kg of gold valued 146.4 million $US dollars.
    This sum compared with only $US 400 million turned in to the Guyana Gold Board for the same year 2011. Something is not right with the gold declaration and the Gold Board that manages the affairs of Guyana’s Mining Industry. Royalty on the gold is 5% in Guyana and only 2.5% in Suriname and so gold is being smuggled out of Guyana and reaches Suriname intact and undetected.
    The same is said of gold from French Guiana. So what can be done by the Guyana Gold Mining Authorities to ensure that the Venezuelans and the Brazilians turn in all the gold mined and not smuggle it into Suriname where thr Royalty paid is only 2.5%! Crack down on Illegal Mining and use a Quota system for granting Gold Mining Liscences to all aliens. The management at the last OMAI gold Plant was no better. Gold was being smuggled to neighbouring countries by the Gold Bars under the very eyes of heavy security at the Gold plant.Light air craft was the means of transporting the finished product.

  • wycs  On 06/21/2012 at 8:16 pm

    If what I read above is true then Guyana is losing quite alot of money. Is something wrong with our Gold Board? This is Guyana’s Gold and should be paid into our Gold Board. Why is it that others know of this smuggling and no one at the Gold Board does? Are they culpable in this matter? The Govt should stop this smuggling immediately and dispense with giving licenses to all Aliens/Guyanese if they are found sending gold out of the country. There must be tighter security.

    Wycliffe Thomas,

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 06/23/2012 at 10:35 am

    It is my humble opinion that no one cares about whether Guyana Gold Board does a profitable annual returns for the gold that is mined by the miners both large and small in the gold Industry. They sat quietly and did nothing to recall an agreement that saw the Canadian Company that Operated the Omai Gold plant with an ownership of 95% in shares and government only 5%. This is the kind of negotiating skills the Hoyte Administration held out for Guyana and this was not changed under subsequent governments. So while the world’s 10th Gold Mining Company is contributing to the total gold reserves in Suriname,both the Venezuelans and the Brazilians are getting away scotch free with the government’s lack of control over the Gold Industry. When will we ever learn any thing about good and stricter management controls in our many industries at home? The Gold Board must out of necessity restrict the amount of aliens who apply for gold mining permits? They can also reduce the Royalty on gold to that of Suriname’s 2.5% instead of the current 5%.

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