Guess what? There’s a gold rush going on in Suriname and its no joke.
Every day, gold seekers travel from the city to the bush, their hired minibuses stuffed with water pumps and pick axes. You can buy these items—along with knee-high waders and vials of mercury—at any of the Chinese-owned supply stores that line Saramacca Straat in Paramaribo. The mining itself mostly happens south of the city, on the ancestral lands of Maroon and Amerindian tribes. Tribal leaders are in on the game, and earn healthy commissions (paid in gold, of course) on everything that comes out of the ground.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Dutch explorers came to the Wild Coast of South America looking for gold. In the ensuing centuries, they found some deposits in Suriname, locked away in the impenetrable jungle of the country’s interior. Faced with the daunting prospect of creating the infrastructure necessary to extract the riches, the Dutch quickly shifted their focus to more profitable ventures, like the slave trade and sugar plantations.
Now that gold prices are through the roof and Suriname’s road system is (marginally) better than it was during Holland’s Golden Century, it’s time to take a look at the players behind one of the least documented mineral grabs in the 21st century.
Photo: a freshly-smelted 500 gram bar of Surinamese gold, market price $25,000