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French Guiana


French Guiana 

Geological setting

French Guiana is part of the Guiana Shield, a geological entity that includes much of French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, northern Brazil and Venezuela. The Guiana Shield is known to host greenstone belts, pervasive across much of the region, which are geological assemblages composed of volcanic and sedimentary sequences that have undergone metamorphism and tectonic deformation, and are usually associated with intrusive granitic bodies. Most importantly, greenstone belts across the globe are often hosts of multi million-ounce gold deposits.


The greenstone belts of French Guiana are referred to as the Paramaca Greenstone Belts (PGB), and form two major branches to the north and south of a predominantly granitic intrusive core. The greenstone belts trend E-W and extend westward into Suriname and eastwards into Brazil.


The northern PGB hosts the Montagne D’Or, Camp Caiman, Esperance, St-Pierre, Changement and St-Elie gold deposits in French Guiana and the Merian and Rosebel deposits in Suriname.  The Southern PGB hosts gold mineralization at Yaou, Dorlin and Haute Mana in French Guiana and Benzdorp and Lely in Suriname.

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French Guiana Project

Gold deposits in French Guiana

Despite the limited amount of exploration activity and commercial mining activity in French Guiana, several significant deposits have already been discovered on the two main greenstone belt trends that stretch across the country. These include:

  • Montagne d’Or (Columbus / Nordgold): 3.85M oz resource (M&I) plus 960k oz Inferred   

  • Camp Caiman (IAMGOLD): >1.5M oz resources (M&I)  

  • Dorlin (Reunion Gold / Auplata JV): 665k oz resource Indicated, plus 883K oz Inferred

  • Esperance (Newmont) – currently under exploration

  • Dieu Merci (Auplata). A small-scale tailing reprocessing operation using CIL cyanide leach, recently permitted.

Artisanal mining activity (legal and illegal) can be found across much of the country, with small scale surface pits visible across many of the mineralized trends hosted by the greenstone belts. This mining activity, some of which continues to be illegal, has focused on near surface free gold mineralization, which can be extracted with simple gravity circuits. This extensive near-surface mineralization of weathered rocks is thought to indicate the presence of significant primary sources of gold across much of the greenstone belt in French Guiana that have yet to be discovered.  

French Guiana – Jurisdictional considerations

  • Status: French Guiana is an overseas department of France. French Guiana, as a region of the European Union, enjoys the same legal status as those in mainland France, but benefits from a favorable status on taxation and business support.  French Guiana operates under French and European Union law. The local currency is the Euro.


  • Mining Legislation: Mining in French Guiana is regulated under the 2012 legislation Schéma départemental d’orientation minière de la Guyane (SDOM), which was designed to promote development while protecting sensitive environmental areas. Reforms to the legislation are expected in 2020, which will attempt to reconcile the goals of promoting mining and infrastructure investment in the region with both responsible mining practices and the protection of the environment.


The territory is subdivided into two zones: designated mining areas (activité minière autorisée) and protected areas (activité minière interdite). The designated zones can be seen in Figure 2, protected areas in blue, authorized areas in yellow.


  • Permits and Mining title under French regulations: Mining titles in French Guiana fall under three categories, although these categories will be amended when the new mining code is adopted (expected in 2020)

  •  ​The concession (Concession): Allows exploration and exploitation. The first validity term (50 years), may be renewed each time for a maximum period of 25 years.


  • The exploration permit (Permis Exclusif de Recherche – PER): Gives its holder an exclusive right to explore.  The first validity term (five years) may be renewed twice, for a maximum period of five years each.


  • The mining permit (Permis d’exploitation - PEX): Gives its holder an exclusive right to mine.  The first validity term (five years) may be renewed twice, for a maximum period of five years each.​

  • Taxation: Changes to the French mining taxation regime are currently underway; however, projects in French Guiana are currently subject to a 33.5% income tax rate plus a 3.3% surcharge. A fixed rate royalty of ~US$25 / ounce is payable to the government, which is the equivalent of only 1.7% at a gold price of $1,450. The tax burden is also lightened by a 35% tax credit (Loi Girardin) that can be applied to the capital cost of the project.

Figure FG 2: Location map of authorized (yellow) and prohibited (blue) areas in French Guiana
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