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Gold mining in Montagne d'Or, Guyane (France)

The Montagne d'Or mine is one of the largest open cast gold mine projects in the French Guiana and in the world. There is a strong dispute on this project, with President Macron in favour of it.


NO to huge industrial gold mining project in French Amazon. [2].  According to the strong social movements against gold mining in Guyane (a French territory in America), Alexei Mordashov, the Russian billionaire and owner of mining company Nordgold, remains more than ever determined to launch a most destructive gold mining project “Montagne d'or” (Gold mountain) [2].  Given the delays in the investigation and public inquiry foreseen, the authorization to operate the mine could be granted in 2020, and production could begin in January 2022.  By 2017, President Macron of Minister Nicolas Hulot of France appear to take opposite views on the issue,  Macron in favour and Hulot against it. Guyane is to all effects a French colony in Amazonian territory in America.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Gold mining in Montagne d'Or, Guyane (France)
State or province:Guyane
(municipality or city/town)St-Laurent-du-Maroni
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Mineral ore exploration
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Gold
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The 4.8 million ounce of Montagne d’Or gold deposit is located in north-west French Guiana, 180 kilometers west of the capital, Cayenne, and 80 kilometres south of the department capital, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni. In mid-March 2017, Nordgold acquired a 55 % interest in the Montagne d’Or project. Nordgold also holds ~9% of Columbus Gold Corp, the main partner in the Montagne d’Or project. Sources state that the project is anticipated to produce 237,000 oz of gold a year in the first ten years at an average grade of 1.73g/t. The overall mine life is expected to be 12 to 15 years.[5] The Montagne d’Or mine is a part of the Paul Isnard project, which comprises eight mining concessions spanning 190km².

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Project area:1,000
Level of Investment:30,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2015
Company names or state enterprises:Columbus Gold from Canada
Relevant government actors:President of France

Minister of the Environement, France
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Or de question,, recipient of Danielle Miterrand prize in 2017.

Association Maiouri Nature Guyane
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:An official commision will debate the issue in 2018
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:There is strong opposition in Guyane and also in France but President Macron supports the project.
Sources and Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

En Guyane, bras de fer autour d'une «montagne d'or». Un projet d’extraction du précieux métal, porté en Guyane française par un consortium russo-canadien, se heurte à une opposition citoyenne et associative tenace. Un débat régional est annoncé pour mars 2018. Marion Briswalter, à Cayenne, 22 septembre 2017.
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[1] Norgold, Location and Description of the Project Montagne d'Or
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[3] Emmanuel Macron confirme son soutien au désastreux projet de mine en Guyane. 28 octobre 2017 / Hélène Ferrarini (Reporterre)
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«En Guyane comme partout ailleurs, l’or rend fou, c’est une maladie». Par Yanuwana Tapoka, membre des jeunesses autochtones de Guyane —Liberation, 12 novembre 2017
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Full description of conflict in French, in wikipedia
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Hélène Ferrarini pour Reporterre. 7 mars 2017. Les autorités et Emmanuel Macron soutiennent le projet minier de la Montagne d’or, porté par la société russe Nordgold. Le dégât environnemental en est certain et le bilan économique discutable. La mobilisation s’organise en Guyane.
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[6] Macron soutient la controversée « Montagne d’or ». Le projet minier, situé au cœur de la forêt de Guyane, est contesté par les défenseurs de l’environnement. LE MONDE | 30.10.2017
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Le projet de mine d’or en Guyane : un désastre programmé

27 septembre 2017 / Marion Veber et Emmanuel Poilane
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[2]NO to huge industrial gold mining project in French Amazon. Endangered Species International.
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[4]NO to industrial gold mining in the forests of French Guiana!
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Or de question mobilise contre la Montagne d'Or

Maud ALAMACHÈRE / David RODOREDA. 22 sept 2017
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[5] Mining Technology. Montagne d’Or Gold Project
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Le projet « Montagne d’Or » de la compagnie canadienne Columbus Gold devant le Tribunal International des droits de la nature. BY GAIAPRESSE ON 8 NOVEMBRE 2017
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Other documents

Source: Liberation, Marion Briswalter, à Cayenne, 22 septembre 2017
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Other comments:"Ce qui occupe le cœur des débats en Guyane actuellement est encore très peu discuté en métropole : il s’agit d’un projet de mégamine d’or à échelle industrielle et à ciel ouvert, la Montagne d’or. Ce projet titanesque promu par des entreprises étrangères se situe entre deux réserves biologiques intégrales, en pleine forêt amazonienne. Cette mine est la caricature d’un projet du passé. Si elle voyait le jour, elle serait la plus grande mine d’or jamais réalisée en France. Elle met en danger la ressource en eau de l’ensemble du bassin de Guyane, elle nécessite une déforestation et une matrice énergétique génératrices de CO2, elle engendrerait des pollutions inévitables au premier rang desquelles la cyanuration".
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Last update23/11/2017