Friday, February 7, 2014

Haiti's wealth of untapped mining resources must benefit the poor

In 2012 I wrote about the mining situation in Haiti and the vast potential for this sector. Mining companies could provide an increase in tax revenues and bring employment to the country – both of which are much needed.

But more than a year later, it is not clear that the benefits mining companies could bring to Haiti would outweigh the costs they inflict – for instance, throwing poor people off their land, polluting our soil, air and water, and generating further inequalities of wealth and power. As in other countries around the world, we could suffer the resource curse.

Over the past five years a few companies have undertaken exploration and now they are trying to get licensed to explore further. Recent estimates suggest that around 2,400 sq km of northern Haiti – or about 8% of the surface of the entire country – could be ripped away from local farmers and given to US and Canadian companies.

The mineral wealth for this area, which includes gold, copper and silver, is estimated to be worth more than $20bn (£12.1bn).

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