Miners polluting Suriname’s Brownsberg Nature Park

(de Ware Tijd) BROWNSBERG – Empty plains, polluted streams, cabarets or improvised brothels and temporary camps are among the silent witnesses to the destruction of the Brownsberg Nature Park that now resembles a moonscape. Damage caused by some 2,000 illegal gold miners can already be seen near the Irene Falls. After warnings by the Gold Sector Restructuring Commission (OGS), which even threatened to remove them by force, the miners eventually left voluntarily. Yesterday, a unit comprised of police and army went to the park with the OGS to patrol the area and find out whether illegal miners have stayed behind. Besides conducting patrols, the unit will destroy the miners’ houses and prospecting equipment. “Our first objective is to clear the area of illegal miners. We prefer to do this through dialogue, as our experience is that this works”, says police deputy-inspector Soerdien, who is leading the operation with an army major. The OGS will regularly visit illegal mines in the area. De Ware Tijd also visited the park to size up the situation. “Our deadline for them was last Sunday,” says Soerdien, who was pleased to see that the porknockers kept the deadline. Last week Tuesday, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Guianas attracted the gold commission’s attention with its photo report of the Brownsberg area. “Doubly red”, was the reaction of OGS chair Gerold Dompig then. “It’s not true that OGS did not know about what was happening at Brownsberg”, Soerdien explains. The commission already visited the area last November. “And now it turns out that the park’s management had granted permission for mining, so we have returned.” The operation’s leaders claim all gold mines in the park have been cleared. The last sign of the gold miners’ presence, besides the destruction of nature, is the equipment that is awaiting transportation out of the park.

 

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