Small-scale gold mining is Suriname's main economic sector, producing about two thirds of the nation's gold. Despite this, the sector is only very loosely regulated and most small-scale mining activities are informal. Surinamese miners are only a minority: the majority are Brazilian migrants, who have no right to the land and therefore have to pay a percentage of their production for land use. This study reports the findings of a field mission to small-scale mines in the region of Brokopondo reservoir. We document the technical aspects of small-scale gold mining in Suriname and contextualize this technology to social issues to identify links with cultural, political and sociological factors. Our findings show that informality and insecurity lead to a mine management culture that applies short-term solutions, such as cheap but polluting and inefficient technologies, and fails to produce stable, long-term mining conditions for clean, efficient technology and secure business planning. We conclude that the social context of the mining economy in Suriname strongly interacts with the technologies employed.
- Artisanal mining