In Suriname, an application for a mining concession with the Geology and Mining Department is necessary for anyone who wants to start mining for gold. The concession holder has to comply with a number of administrative, financial, and other obligations, depending on the kind of concession. In practice, the legal regulations set out by the Surinam Mining Code of 1986 are frequently disobeyed.

A prominent source of unrest occurs when mining concessions are granted on lands to which indigenous and tribal peoples claim customary rights. In many cases the traditional area inhabitants are not notified in advance, and not adequately compensated. In 2002 the Associations of Geologists drafted a new and improved Mining Legislation. This draft law is, more than a decade later, still awaiting discussion and approval in the National Assemble.

Another main issue is the limited control over existing regulations, which are frequently violated. Concessionaries are typically not held responsible for the impacts of mining activities on their concessions, and concessions are seldom withdrawn. Reasons for this include a lack of capacity and funds in the Geology and Mining Department and the influential position of some concessionaries.

The Commission Regulation Gold Sector (OGS) was installed in 2011 to improve the legal and institutional context of small-scale gold mining. Its objective is to transform the sector into a formal sector that employs only legal and tax-paying residents of Suriname. The Commission started with the registration of gold miners. In addition, it has expelled small-scale gold miners from conflict areas; it mediated in conflicts among miners and between miners and third parties; it facilitated tax collection from gold miners; and researched more responsible mining technologies.

The Commission OGS  plans to operate mining service centers in the interior, where miners can go for registration, administrative procedures, technological assistance, and so forth. However, the Commission has been criticized of failing to protect local communities and of the unequal treatment of miners.

Read more:
News article, April 2014: tension in Brokopondo. Local miners are sent away; concessions are given to friends of OGS.

Securing indigenous peoples’ rights in conservation in Suriname. A review.

GOMIAM publications:

Heemskerk, M., Duijves, C. & Pinas, M. (2013). Interpersonal and institutional distrust as disabling factors in natural resources management: small-scale gold miners and the government in Suriname. Society & Natural Resources, pp. 1-16.

Heemskerk, M. & Duijves, C. (2013). Small-scale gold mining and conflict in Suriname. In: Cremers, L., Kolen, J. & Theije, M. de (eds). Small-scale gold mining in the Amazon. The cases of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Suriname, pp. 85-101.

Heemskerk, M. (2009). Kleinschalige goudwinning in Suriname. Een overzicht van sociaaleconomische, politieke, en milieu-aspecten. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Centrum voor Studie en Documentatie van Latijns Amerika (CEDLA).

Theije, Marjo de & Marieke Heemskerk (2011). Groot en klein goud in Suriname. De informalisering en ordening van de goudwinning. Justitiële verkenningen 37(3):45-58.

Theije, Marjo de & Marieke Heemskerk (2010). Transforming Land Tenure Systems in the Quest for Gold: Aluku, Wayana, and the State in the Suriname – French Guiana Border Region. In: Visigalli EB, and Roosevelt A, editors. L’acte de colloque Amaz’hommes. Cayenne: Ibis Rouge. p 353-365.

Theije, Marjo de, Judith Kolen, Marieke Heemskerk, Celine Duijves, Mariana Sarmiento, Alexandra Úran, Ingrid Lozada, Helcías Ayala, Jorge Perea, and Armin Mathis (2014). “Engaging legal systems in small-scale gold mining conflicts in three South American countries.” In Conflicts over Natural Resources in the Global South: Conceptual Approaches, edited by Maarten Bavinck, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and Erik Mostert, 129-146. Leiden, The Netherlands: CRC Press/Balkema.[/vc_column_text]