Suriname tribe disappointed over gold concessions

PARAMARIBO (de Ware Tijd) – The Aluku tribe is disappointed because gold concessions its members had applied for repeatedly turn out to have been granted to a political loyalist. Successive governments have ignored concession applications by several Aluku entrepreneurs since 2002.

The concessions were granted by Natural Resources (NH) Minister Jim Hok on 4 and 5 May 2011 to the Benzdorp Ontwikkelings-maatschappij Suriname (BOMS) which was founded on February 22, 2011. BOMS was granted five concessions totalling 139,000 hectares in the Lawa area in Sipaliwini to explore for gold and other minerals. BOMS is run by Jerrel Koendjbiharie, who has been the house DJ of the NDP for decades and is currently sound technician at the President’s Office. Sources claim this reeks of nepotism.

“How is it possible that persons who have applied for these concessions for years were refused, while a new enterprise of someone with connections to this government gets them?” an anonymous source asks. Koendjbiharie refused comments to dWT stating the matter is still being studied by the authorities.  Documents and correspondence obtained by de Ware Tijd show that at least three persons or companies had applied for the concessions in the same area. Yellow Star Mining Company of Jan Akoeba and Dennis Kago had applied for circa 6,920 hectares in the Benzdorp area. This company had a contract with Grassalco, had been mining in Grassalco’s concessions for years and had invested nearly US$2 million in its operations. Some years ago, Grassalco returned these concessions to the State and Yellow Star Mining Company immediately applied to take over.

The businessmen and Aluku granman Emanuel Jacobi wrote several letters to former NH Minister Gregory Rusland, Minister Hok and even President Desi Bouterse, but in vain. The concessions were granted to BOMS in May 2011. Earlier this month, granman Jacobi sent a letter to President Bouterse asking him to revoke concessions granted to third parties in the Aluku area. Meanwhile, Yellow Star Mining Company’s management has sent a letter to Speaker of Parliament Jenny Geerlings-Simons expressing disappointment in the government’s decision. “Although Yellow Star Mining Company had applied for the concession first and has followed all instructions to obtain the concession rights, we were disappointed to note that these rights have been granted to BOMS,” the letter states. The company asks Simons to investigate this matter and hopes the concession to BOMS will be revoked.

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