Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Report on Risks and Benefits of Mining in Haiti

Interest in mining in Haiti has grown with the success of mining in the Dominican Republic and the Haitian government’s calls for foreign investment. Unfortunately, the Haitian people have been left out of these discussions, despite the human rights and environmental risks faced especially by communities living near mines. This report discusses the challenges and opportunities of mining, as well as how it could impact Haiti as a whole.

Part of the Executive Summary is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Byen Konte, Mal Kalkile?

Human Rights and Environmental Risks of Gold Mining in Haiti

Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Haiti Justice Initiative

December 2015

! Resident, Gode Since I was a little kid I have listened to my grandparents talk about the riches that are in the Haitian soil. We don’t have the tools we need to exploit them. But the foreigners have recently returned, and we know in history this has caused problems.

! Resident, La Mine The reason we are upset is not because foreigners are mining. We don’t know enough about mining to know if it is good for us. We are upset because the foreigners never introduced themselves.

! Community leader, La Montagne We live in a State that has never integrated us into the political life of the country.

Haiti stands at a crossroads: The prospect of gold mining glitters on the horizon, while the reality of an uncertain political future, weak institutions, and widespread impoverishment glares in the foreground. Celebrated as the only nation in the world born of a successful slave revolution, but known today as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is a fragile, if resilient, place. Rights are precarious, and basic resources are scarce. As of 2014, only 62 percent of all households in Haiti had access to safe drinking water, while less than 50 percent enjoyed such access in rural areas.1 The cholera epidemic that erupted in 2010, which has taken more than 9,000 lives to date,2 has revealed the vulnerability of the Haitian population amid inadequate water, sanitation, and health infrastructure. But it has also highlighted the power of popular protest. Haiti has a longstanding tradition of peasant movements, in which ordinary Haitians have mobilized to challenge and overcome injustice. It is in this context—against the backdrop of the country’s complex history with foreign intervention and investment—that efforts to develop a mining industry in Haiti must be understood.

Minerals can be exploited only once. The current moment, before mining has begun, presents a unique opportunity for the Haitian people to engage in a robust public debate about the risks and benefits of mining and for the Haitian State to implement preventive measures to avoid future human rights abuses and environmental harms. Such a debate requires transparency, public education, and active engagement of Haitian communities. Until now, most discussions about mining have occurred behind closed doors among government officials, company stakeholders, and international financial institutions. There is a dearth of information in the public domain about what gold mining entails, what challenges it poses, what opportunities it presents, and what it may mean for communities and the country as a whole. The purpose of this Report is to help fill that gap.


Click HERE for the full text.

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