Haiti PM Says New Laws for Mining Industry are Being Drafted

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012 12:50

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (defend.ht) - Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is hoping to get legislation passed for new mining laws in Haiti that should help the country reap more of the benefits from its minerals.

The Associated Press reports that the plans to draft the mining legislation are coming after two mining companies reported last week to have begun drilling in the northeast of Haiti.

An engineer from the exploratory firm Somine S.A., Michel Lamarre spoke of the possibility of billions in gold deposits in the region.

His company and some others, in recent years, have been able to obtain more than $30 million from U.S. and Canadian investors who have spent this money on everything from exploratory drilling to camps for workers, new roads, offices and laboratory studies of samples, according to MSNBC.

But in a May 2011 DH article, Somine S.A., claimed to be the holder of the entire mineral rights in the region. Given this claim by Somine S.A., the details of the new laws to be drafted by the Lamothe government are critical but have not yet been disclosed.

According to the AP, Haiti's mining potential has been known for several decades. In the 1970s, United Nations geologists documented significant pockets of gold and copper ore, but foreigners weren't willing to take a risk in a country where corruption and political instability have long discouraged foreign investment.

Mining laws in Haiti haven't been revised since 1976.

Lamothe said the legislation being drafted is meant to benefit Haiti while also making the country attractive to outside investors by allowing companies to profit from mining.

When asked how much he would like Haiti to receive, Lamothe said: "As much as possible without hampering also the revenue of the party, allowing them to do business."