Guyana: Montagne d’or mining project relaunched by courts

The administrative court in Cayenne, Guyana, has “ordered the state to extend” the concession of a controversial mining project, rejected by the government in 2019.


It is a Christmas present that opponents of the gold megamine project in Guyana would have done well. On Thursday, December 24, the Cayenne Administrative Court annulled the “implicit” rejection of the Minister of Finance, Bruno Le Maire, of a request for a twenty-five-year extension of the Montagne d’Or concessions (15 km 2 sup >) and Elysée (25 km 2 ) from the Montagne d’Or mining company in the west of the territory, and “ordered the State” to “extend them (…) within a period of six months “.

The minister’s implicit rejection dates back to January 21, 2019: by not responding within the two-year deadline to the extension request filed at the end of 2016 by the consortium of Russian Nordgold and Canadian Colombus Gold, Bruno Le Maire paved the way for the shutdown of the largest gold mine project in France: 85 tonnes of gold extracted by cyanidation in a closed circuit for twelve years, 750 direct jobs and 3,000 indirect or induced, 125 kilometers from Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, in an area where exploitation is authorized “under conditions”, between two parts of an integral biological reserve rale.

On May 6, 2019, the President of the Republic declared that the “state of the art” of this project was not “compatible with an ecological ambition, and in terms of biodiversity” . On May 23, at the end of an ecological defense council, François de Rugy, then minister of ecological transition, pressed by journalists, announced that the project would not be carried out. The previous year, the mobilization of the collective Or de question – bringing together more than a hundred associations – and Amerindian organizations had led to the organization of a public debate in Guyana.

Au After four months of stormy meetings, the National Commission for Public Debate concluded with “opinions expressed generally hostile to the project”, the “question of environmental risks” not having been “clarified for lack of an impact study”. The conviction of the State by the administrative court of Cayenne relaunches the file on the legal level.

“Error of law”

In a press release attached to the judgments, the court specifies that the mining company, “on the one hand presents sufficient elements justifying its technical and financial capacities to exploit the concessions and, on the other hand, produces a detailed report detailing the work already carried out and their results (…) as well an impact notice describing the environmental impacts of its project “. The court also evokes the “lack of serious challenge of the Minister of the Economy and Finance”, and an “error of law” of the ministry, which produced a text off subject to oppose the request for extension of the concessions. Already, during the hearing of December 3, the public rapporteur had insisted on the “weakness” and the absence of “relevance” of the arguments of the State to justify its refusal.

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