The Miners Next Door (HB77)

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This edition examines the current state of mining in Haiti, the role of global mining corporations in taking advantage of local mining codes and the interest of foreign investors in exploiting Haiti's natural resources. We also speak to local groups who have opposed the close circles within the Haitian mining industry and who tell us of the struggles and threats they are currently facing.

Haiti’s mining sector is the latest phase of a well-known economic cycle, where US and Canadian companies secure lucrative deals for much less than they are worth, leaving little to show for it but cleared land, disappointed hopes or worse. People who live in these areas are often unaware of the explorations taking place or indeed the impact that such operations could have on their lives and natural resources.

Haiti’s government heralds recent discoveries of gold and silver on its side of the island as the bootstrap the country needs to pull itself up from the dev- astation of the 2010 earthquake. Yet the mining industry’s record of forced displacement – and the country’s opaque mining codes and even murkier business deals – leaves those who would most be impacted sceptical

“We in Baie de Henne [in north- west Haiti] are against any potential mining because we will not profit one bit,” said Vernicia Phillus of Tèt Kole peasant movement in a 2013 interview with Haiti Grass- roots Watch. She fears for the lands on which she depends, its fruit trees and aquifers. With up to 15 percent of the country under mining con- tract, she has reason to worry.

Over the border in the Domini- can Republic, the Pueblo Viejo mine is a stark example of what could go wrong. Locals accuse the joint venture of Barrick and Gold-

corp of dodging its obligations to test and treat its waste. They are su- ing its operating company, alleging that it is poisoning rivers, causing illnesses and killing farm animals. Could this be Haiti’s future?