WWF urges French president to stop mining project

Emmanuel Macron

WWF has called on the public to petition Emmanuel Macron. 

Plans to mine for gold in French Guiana will have a 'catastrophic impact on the environment'. WWF has launched an awareness campaign calling on the public to petition Emmanuel Macron, the French president to stop the controversial Montagne d'Or project. PASCAL CANFIN, the chief executive of WWF France, explains why

The Montagne d’Or project is planning to clear a total of 1,513 hectares, including the deforestation of primeval forests of considerable environmental value.

Two multinationals – Nordgold and Columbus Gold – are seeking to establish themselves in French Guiana, between two Forest biological reserves, to exploit gold.

This useless and imposed project is an economic mirage and represents a dead end for the future of French Guiana and its inhabitants.

WWF France is saying 'stop' to Montagne d'Or, an industrial gold mine project that is planned for construction in the French Guiana.

Global campaign

To raise awareness about the project, which is currently the subject of a public debate in Guiana, WWF France launched the #StopMontagnedOr campaign.

The Montagne d’Or project is planning to clear a total of 1,513 hectares, including the deforestation of primeval forests of considerable environmental value – 575 hectares – on a site where more than 2,000 vegetable and animal species can be found, of which 127 protected species have been inventoried.

We are opposed to the Montagne d’Or project because it represents irreducible environmental impacts - deforestation, energy consumption - but also substantial risks - bursting of the dike, acidic mine drainage, transport and handling of dangerous materials, landslides, etc.

The company also plans to use cyanide even though in 2010 the European Parliament requested a total ban on the use of cyanide-based technologies in the mining industry, due to its extreme toxicity for the environment and human health.

Public funding pit

Montagne d’Or is also a mirage in terms of development for French Guiana, and a bottomless pit for taxpayers.

The project is expected to swallow up at least 420 million euros of public funding, or 560,000 euros for each of the 750 direct jobs announced.

The customary Amerindian chiefs have stated their opposition to the project. At the Conference of Native Peoples of Guiana, held on 16 and 17 December 2017, the customary chiefs stated their "firm and unmovable" position against the Montagne d’Or project and demanded a moratorium on all mining projects threatening their territories.

Gold mining is not a priority for the Guianese. However, the public funding allotted to Montagne d’Or will not benefit other essential sectors such as agriculture, tourism or renewable energies.

Petitioning a president

It is now urgent to part ways with the linear economy of the past, based on the extract-manufacture-consume-throw away quartet, and to open the way to the twenty-first century economy, which is circular, functional and sustainable.

Through the #StopMontagnedOr campaign and a film starring Ibrahim Cissé, WWF France presents a disaster scenario that comes to life on a football pitch. We have identified an original way in which to challenge the huge dimensions of the Montagne d’Or project.

Because the gold extraction will involve 57,000 tons of explosives, 46,500 tons of cyanide and 195 million litres of fuel, and destroy 1,513 hectares of forests - about the equivalent in size to 2,161 football pitches.

The campaign comes alive on the internet and social networks: WWF France and Ibrahim Cissé calling on their respective communities and public as a whole to mobilise globally on the stopmontagnedor.com platform to call out the French President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron.

A decisive match is currently being played in French Guiana, we need the mobilisation of all to take this project out of the game!

This Author

Pascal Canfin is chief executive of WWF France.

WWF has released a campaign video.