Suriname projecting major job expansion from gold investments

(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – The mega gold investments to be made in Brokopondo and East Suriname will cause enormous shifts in the labor market. “I’m afraid we won’t have enough workers to fill the jobs that will be created,” Minister Jim Hok of Natural Resources (NH) says about the negotiations with multinationals Iamgold and Newmont.
“I’m not that concerned,” says Freddy Brug, chairman of the union representing Iamgold’s 900 workers. The country’s biggest gold producer already has an enormous demand for workers, and finding qualified ones could be a problem. The upcoming operation in the Nassau Mountains area will mean stiff competition for Iamgold. “If Iamgold is not careful, they will lose their workers to Newmont, which may offer attractive benefits to employees. Employers from other sectors must be careful; even the government might suffer a ‘brain drain’ when civil servants abandon their jobs for the gold mining industry,” Brug predicts.
In the case of Iamgold alone, the number of jobs could increase to 2,400. In any case, Minister Hok is pleased with the negotiations so far. Iamgold is planning to invest around US$ 700 million to expand the Rosebel Goldmines (RGM). The operation by Newmont, which will be carried out in cooperation with aluminum giant Alcoa is to cost around US$ 800 million and will be at least as big as RGM’s. Both companies want their investments through by 2014 and be fully operational by then.
“Both the government and the companies want to reach an agreement as soon as possible,” Hok adds. He also emphasizes that the state wants a bigger cut in the operations, including an opportunity for both the government and local investors to invest in the Nassau Mountains operations. Meanwhile, Iamgold has significantly increased its production capacity for the second half of 2012 by installing bigger and more machines. The area in which Newmont operates has amply proven gold reserves.

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