Gold mine in French Guiana: WWF opposition

The environmental protection NGO " committed itself against this project after analyzing it " from an environmental and economic point of view, explained Pascal Canfin, Director General of WWF France , during a conference call. The project, led by the Russian-Canadian consortium Nordgold-Columbus Gold, plans to mine a mine, starting in 2022, in an area 125 km by track south of the city of Saint-Laurent du Maroni, in full rainforest, and would create 750 direct jobs. The largest project of primary gold mining ever proposed in France plans to dig a pit equivalent to 32 times the stage of France.

Industrial risks

It is the subject of a debate public until July 7 in French Guiana with the first public meetings in early April. This industrial project " is an economic aberration and an aberration in terms of return on the public money invested ," said Mr. Canfin. The project would require 420 million euros of 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 allow to fight illegal gold panning. " It's completely wrong ," said Canfin, arguing that the areas involved and the methods used are very different.

The NGO also points out the risks to the environment , with a site located 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 the Guyanese office of WWF France. 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 the Economy, but it is rejected by the Minister of the ecological transition, Nicolas Hulot. It is also opposed by customary leaders in this French territory in South America, while some politicians and entrepreneurs are in favor.

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.

WWF boss wants to put the company at the service of the environment

"The company is the most important institution of our time". This creed does not come from the mouth of a financier but from that of Pavan Sukhdev, new president of WWF International, convinced that entrepreneurs have a "moral" duty to protect the environment.

The purpose of the company "goes well beyond profit," says the Indian economist, in an interview with AFP. The former banker was in Paris Wednesday and Thursday, while he took the reins of the environmental NGO, present in more than 80 countries to preserve species and wild areas at risk. It has been forming partnerships with companies for about ten years.

"To survive, I have to breathe, but breathing is not my goal." In the same way, the company needs to make a profit. to exist, but the benefits are not its end, it's just part of the mechanism, "he says.

Fine glasses, impeccable tie suit, Pavan Sukhdev challenges" the creed "of the liberal economist Milton Friedman "that the company is simply a cash machine for the shareholders", during a meeting at WWF France headquarters in the Paris suburbs.

In his view, the goal of private companies must be "societal : solve problems, add value, serve society "because they cause damage to the planet. "It's a moral and economic imperative."

The economist, 57, gives a concrete example: "I'm selling a car, I'm making a profit, I'm happy … You're driving the car (…) you're happy, but a third person may not be, because the emissions from your car can affect his lungs, and a fourth person may not be happy either because these emissions contribute to climate change and his house on board of sea was destroyed by the rise of the waters and the storms. "

" These people suffer from the + externalities + of our economic activity (…) ", that is to say of collateral effects.

Today, "CEOs and economic leaders have a moral imperative to recognize the existence of these" + externalities ", to measure them (…) and to reduce them to the extent possible."

– Atypical Profile –

If a trend in this direction is initiated, "changes must be accelerated", both by "encouraging good behavior" and "overwhelming the bad". To achieve this, "we all have a role to play," insists the Indian, who took advantage of his stay in Paris to meet the Secretary of State for the Transition Brune Poirson ecological or representatives of the OECD. 19659002] He pleads for "a more responsible mode of consumption, which recognizes its impact" on the environment and "does not encourage you to consume in a way that is damaging to nature, society."

Pavan Sukhdev has an atypical profile in the world of NGOs: he spent 11 years in the Australian bank AZN, then 14 years in the German group Deutsche Bank, in Asia and London, working in particular on derivatives. But his "passion" for the environment has finally taken over, he says.

He was director of the UN's green initiative and led the study on the economics of the environment. Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), published in 2010, which helped to popularize the concept of "natural capital". The idea is to evaluate the value of the services rendered by biodiversity, now made free of charge. According to this work, the erosion of biodiversity costs between 1,350 and 3,100 billion euros per year.

Even today, this concept remains poorly understood, which can lead to "resistance", recognizes the economist.

"It's not about privatizing the commons, it's the exact opposite: it's about finding a rational reason to ensure that the public wealth of nature – central to our lives – be kept ". From theory to practice, there is still a chasm, he admits.