Guyana: WWF reiterates opposition to mining project before public debate

WWF detailed on Tuesday its opposition to the "Montagne d'Or" mining project in Guyana, supported by Emmanuel Macron when he was minister, a few days before the first public meetings.

the environment "is committed against this project after analyzing it" from an environmental and economic point of view, said Pascal Canfin, Director General of WWF France, during a conference call.

The project, carried by the Russo-Canadian consortium Nordgold-Columbus Gold, plans the exploitation of a mine, from 2022, in a zone with 125 km by track south of the city of Saint-Laurent du Maroni, in the middle of the rainforest, and allow the creation of 750 direct jobs.

The biggest project of primary gold extraction ever proposed in France plans to dig a pit equivalent to 32 times the stadium of France.

It is the object of public debate until July 7 in French Guiana, with the The first public meetings at the beginning of April

This industrial project "is an economic aberration and an aberration in terms of the return on the public money invested", estimated Mr. Canfin

The project would require 420 million euros public money, or 560,000 euros per direct job created, calculates the NGO. The latter defends another model of economic development based for example on eco-tourism for this region where the unemployment rate is higher than 20%.

For the WWF, this project will not be able to fight against gold panning illegal. "This is completely wrong," said Canfin, arguing that the areas and methods used are very different.

The NGO also points out the risks to the environment, with a site located in near the largest biological reserve in France, the use of significant amount of cyanide or deforestation. There are "major industrial risks", said Laurent Kelle, head of WWF France's Guyana office.

WWF is still concerned that this project, if completed, will lead to other similar projects. "One of the fears we have is that Golden Mountain opens the Pandora's box," worried Pascal Quéru, an economist at WWF France.

The project was supported by Emmanuel Macron when he was minister of Economy, but it is rejected by the Minister of the ecological transition, Nicolas Hulot.

It also faces the opposition of customary chiefs in this French territory in South America, whereas some politicians and entrepreneurs are in favor.