WASHINGTON, DC – International relief and development organization Oxfam America raises concerns about the potential impacts of mining minerals in Haiti and urges the Haitian government to tread carefully before entering any agreements with mining companies.
The call to action comes as representatives from Haitian civil society, the government, mining companies, technical experts and international donors will convene in Haiti to identify and discuss critical issues that must be addressed to ensure a positive outcome from mining in the country.
“As one of the last unexplored places on earth with billions worth of minerals in the northeastern part of the country, mining could be a major opportunity for Haiti to stand on its own two feet,” said Keith Slack, global manager of Oxfam America’s oil, gas and mining program. “But as we’ve seen in a number of other countries, mineral wealth can also be a curse.”
US-based Newmont Mining, Canadian miner Eurasian Minerals and various other mining companies are pursuing an estimated $20 billion worth of gold and other minerals in the country’s northern mountains.
In a country where people live on less than $2 a day, Haiti’s Prime Minister Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe should ensure that Haiti’s human and natural resources propel the country away from its current ranking as this hemisphere’s poorest country.
“As the Haitian government moves forward to begin extracting the nation’s natural resources, it should not be blinded by the promise of vast sums of money,” said Yolette Etienne, Oxfam’s Haiti associate country program director. “It must demand the highest human rights as well as environmental and transparency standards, which can help companies act responsibly.”
While Haiti’s government has a responsibility to ensure mineral revenues reach the people, mining companies eyeing Haiti’s natural wealth should think how they can become a development partner that proactively and positively contributes meaningfully to economic development outcomes. For example, companies should think how they can strengthen rural agricultural livelihoods, enhancing food security and respecting the rights of women.
“Indeed, the mining industry should see Haiti as an opportunity to start the country on the right foot, and avoid the mistakes made in Peru, where violent protests have recently forces companies’ to halt development of various projects,” said Eitenne. “Natural resources can either help lift Haiti out of poverty or make things much worse. We all need to work together to ensure Haiti’s mineral wealth become truly a blessing rather than a curse.”