The Republic of Suriname is the smallest sovereign state in South America, obtaining its independence from the Netherlands in 1975. It is a unitary parliamentary republic and a member of the Caribbean Community.
A country with a population of 560.000 inhabitants, Suriname has an economy dominated by the mining industry, with exports of oil and gold accounting for approximately 85% of exports and 27% of government revenues.
Suriname geology and gold mineralization
The Marowijne greenstone belt occupies the eastern third of the Suriname territory and is the host of all known gold mineralization in the country. The Marowijne rocks were formed in a large basin, which evolved to an arcuate shape and continues into French Guiana as two distinct branches, one along the Atlantic coast and another heading southeast as far as the Amapá state in Brazil. This typical greenstone belt is composed predominately of volcanic and sedimentary rocks, cut by intrusions of various compositions. These rocks were formed, metamorphosed, and strongly deformed by folding and faulting during the so-called Trans-Amazonian Orogeny, which occurred around 2.18-2.10 Ga. This greenstone belt has been stratigraphically subdivided into three units representing distinct geological environments: the predominantly sedimentary Rosebel and Armina Formations, and the predominately volcanic Paramaca Formation. Gold deposits and occurrences have been found in all three units, often associated with structural features, like shears.
Two tier-one gold deposits have been found in the Marowijne belt, Rosebel (IAMGOLD) and Merian (Newmont), while several other deposits and occurrences are known and being evaluated, including Saramacca, Overman, Benzdorp, and Lely.
Exploration and mining legislation
Exploration and mining activities are managed by the Suriname Ministry of Natural Resources and the Geology and Mining Department (GMD), according to the Mining Code of 1986 (Decree E-58, 1986). A draft of a new mining law is awaiting approval from the National Assembly.
There are four types of mineral rights that can be granted under the Decree E-58 including: (1) “Rights of Reconnaissance” (up to 200,000 ha), (2) “Rights of Exploration” (up to 40,000 ha), (3) “Rights of Exploitation” (up to 10,000 ha), and (4) “Right of Small-Scale Mining” (up to 200 ha).