There's a gold rush in Haiti.
But a new investigation from Haiti Grassroots Watch reveals that the public has been mislead by reports in the media and by certain statements from mining companies and Haitiian government officials.
The gold rush that has been quietly shaping up over the past several years promises to produce some $20 billion in wealth, but where will the money go? Who will get rich? And at what cost?
A ten-month investigation by a team of students, journalists and community radio members made startling discoveries, like:
• Almost 1,500 square miles (about 2,400 square kilometers) of Haitian territory – 15 percent of the country – are already under research, exploration or exploitation licenses or "mining conventions" controlled by US and Canadian firms.
• Eurasian Minerals, one of the firms, has collected 44,000 samples alone.
• Newmont Mining, the world's Number 2 gold producer and operator of the largest pit mine in the Americas, is heavily invested with Eurasian, and is considering at least five possible mine sites.
• Haiti's former Minister of the Economy and Finances is now a paid consultant for Newmont.
• Two Haitian ministers recently signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" with Newmont and Eurasian that says – in violation of Haitian law – Eurasian and Newmont can begin drilling at one of their exploration sites. Haitian legislation states no drilling can occur without a mining convention.
• With only a handful of operating vehicles and geologists on its staff, the state mining agency lacks the means to supervise the drilling and research happening across the country's north.
• Nobody appears to be telling the communities in Haiti's north what is going on, and what deals have been made behind closed doors.
Watch this video we made the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, who supported this investigation.
Watch the Democracy Now! segment based on the story, from May 31.