Saturday, May 12, 2012

Poor Little Rich Haiti to Be Fleeced of Copper-Silver-Gold Via Caracol Deep-Water Port (UPDATED)

By Dady Chery-Haiti Chery

Caracol_Turtle_cShow me a corporate boss who calls Haiti the “poorest country in the western hemisphere,” and I’ll show you a con artist preparing to fleece Haiti. Likewise, show me a western technocrat who bemoans Haiti’s “dramatic deforestation due to charcoal production” and I’ll show a bio-pirate or vandal preparing to wreck Haiti’s remaining cloud-forest and mangrove-forest ecosystems.
It turns out that the real plan for Haiti’s northeastern region — especially the Caracol Bay area — is one that was hatched by Canadian mining corporations, with the U.S. and South Korean sweatshop zone being a side project and distraction. If this mining plan is given a green light while Haiti is under foreign occupation, it will permanently strip the country of much of its mineral, cultural, and ecological wealth.

Dominican Republic Pueblo Viejo mine on August 7, 2009; one would be hard put to find deforestation due to charcoal production that looks quite as bad as this (Credit: Mining Journal).
In a recent interview with Canada’s Financial Post, Majescor Resources Inc. CEO Dan Hachey was effusive about Michel Martelly’s installment as president because he expects Martelly’s policy of mimicking the Dominican Republic (DR) to be a boon to the mining sector.
Hachey enthusiastically noted that,
“thirty years ago, there was no mining sector to speak of in the Dominican Republic….
“In that short period of time they’ve seen the development of the Pueblo Viejo Project [of Barrick and Goldcorp's], which is one of the world’s largest gold deposits — and is pretty much a neighbour of ours.
“They’re going to be coming on with production this year.”
This glowing picture omits the fact that Barrick and Goldcorp have come under strong popular opposition in the DR. In a country where 20% of the population lacks access to drinking water, these companies are accused of polluting 2,500 cubic meters of water per hour with the vast quantities of cyanide needed to process 24,000 tons of ore a day by opencast (or open-pit) mining. Open-pit mining is banned by the European Union. Activists in the DR have joined forces with a broader group called Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (OCMAL) that has launched a campaign to end this practice in the region.

There is great concern that the DR’s biggest water reservoir, which is close to the mining operations, is continuously at risk of cyanide contamination, since stories of spills and massive fish die offs caused by mining companies are legion.  Barrick and Goldcorp have also been accused of dynamiting mountains and destroying Taino Indian archaelogical sites.

Like the Pueblo Viejo region of the DR currently under exploitation, the spot being eyed for mining by Majescor in Haiti — a 50-square-kilometer area called the SOMINE property — is part of broader region, replete with archeological sites, situated along a metal-rich mountain ridge running from southeast DR to northern Haiti. This was formerly known simply as the Massif du Nord but has become the “Massif du Nord Metallogenic (or Mineralization) Belt.”

Photo: courtexy of Alexrk2.
SOMINE is an acronym for Société Minière du Nord-Est S.A. and is described in the mineral trade sheets as a “Haitian affiliate mining company.”  It is 66.4% owned by Majescor, with the rest being owned by Haiti’s elite. Majescor is still a relatively small company that conducts mineral surveys. The SOMINE property is surrounded by other mining properties owned jointly by Majescor and much larger concerns like Eurasian Minerals and Newmont Mining. Once Majescor’s surveys are complete, it plans to find a big partner, like Barrick, Eurasian, or Newmont to handle the extractive part of the project.
Curiously, the area of the SOMINE property was initially surveyed as early as
“the 1970s by the UN Development Program, with some very good results [but the project was not pursued, then] there was a feasibility study done by the Germans [Bundesanstalt fur Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR)] in 1980, and there was further drilling done in the 1990s by Canadian junior [mining companies]. recalled Hachey.
During the 1980′s, the area was explored again by the UNDP and also surveyed by the French Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minière (BRGM), both of which reported finding only copper.

The official story is that an abundance of copper had until recently obscured the fact that the area’s ore is also rich in silver and gold, and this was discovered from Majescor’s recent prospects of Douvray, Blondin and Faille-B. However, the story could just as well be that the mining executives were biding their time and waiting for a “stable” non-nationalistic government to take effect before initiating their projects.
The mineral rights to the area were assigned to SOMINE under a Mining Convention executed on May 5, 2005 (valid until March 9, 2020) between this company and the post-Aristide coup government. After this, it did not take long for Haiti’s mountains to start to glitter. For example, an exploration of the Faille-B prospect in 2007 found a gold vein that averaged 42.7 grams of gold per ton of ore (g/t) over 6 meters, including values of 107.5 g/t of gold over one meter.
According to Hachey, April 11, 2012 assays from Blondin found:
  • 0.45% copper over 96.5 meters;
  • 0.3% copper over 12 meters, including 0.61% copper over 1.5 meters; 154 grams of silver per ton (g/t) over 12 meters, including 869 g/t silver over 1.5 meters.
March 13, 2012 results from Blondin discovered:
  • 72.4 g/t silver over 15 meters;
  • 16.9 g/t silver over 113 meters, including 6.2 g/t silver over 1.5 meters; 0.43% copper over 113 meters, including 4.44% copper over 1.5 meters.
February 1, 2012 results from Douvray discovered:
  • 255 g/t silver over 13.5 meters, including 2,069 g/t silver over 1.5 meters; 0.35% copper over 13.5 meters, including 0.52% copper over 1.5 meters; 0.02 g/t gold over 13.5 meters, including 0.04 g/t gold over 1.5 meters;
  • 277 g/t silver over 13.5 meters, including 1,428 g/t silver over 1.5 meters; 0.18% copper over 13.5 meters, including 0.52% copper over 1.5 meters; 0.04 g/t gold over 13.5 meters, including 0.04 g/t gold over 1.5 meters.
These highly concentrated deposits of copper, silver and gold should reasonably represent a new found wealth for Haiti at a time of dire need of resources for the country’s reconstruction. But if the DR is to serve as an example, Haiti will not benefit from its minerals. In the DR, Barrick owns 60% of the Pueblo Viejo gold mine and Goldcorp Inc. owns the remaining 40%. To get a sense of the scale of the greed, one need only consider that currently the Pueblo Viejo mine is slated to produce one million ounces of gold per year at a cost of only US$20-50/oz, making it one of the lowest-cost gold mines in the world.
Hachey comments with evident enthusiasm,
“What we’re most excited about is that we found some silver which was never really realized before. It’s the first silver discovery in Haiti.
“Part of the reason why it was never really discovered was that historically there was so much copper prevalent — there’s a lot of outcropping at surface. The people who did the work before did not do much testing, even for gold.
“The geology is a little complex for a copper porphyry, but in a good way. The surprises that we’re getting are all good ones.”
As major draws for a big mining partner to this next phase of the project, Hachey is advertising that, unlike Port-au-Prince, which was destroyed by the earthquake, Cap Haitien is a pleasant place for a Canadian mining executive and his family to come to. In addition he notes that there are plans for
the construction of a deep-water port at Caracol,”
only 15 kilometres from the SOMINE property and near Cap-Haïtien.
This first official announcement of a deep-water port for Caracol explains in part why there has been no effort to mitigate the ecological effects of the massive free-trade (sweatshop) zone inaugurated in March 2012 in that area: the textile factories’ contributions to the degradation of Caracol Bay should be trivial compared to the damage from opencast gold mining and construction of a deep-water port.

Sources: Haiti Chery | Thanks to Black Agenda Report and Tortilla con Sal for republication

Monday May 7, 2012 (Le Matin) Martelly announces that the construction of a port will soon start in Fort-Liberte [near Caracol], in the Northeast. The port will cost U.S $179 million and is supposed to be “built with the U.S. government’s help,” but it will likely be entirely owned by U.S. concerns.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Feds Awarded RTA $45 Million to Expand the Streetcar Service in Downtown Area

By Wadner Pierre
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has been awarded $45 million to build a new streetcar line  on Loyola  Ave. to improve transportation in the downtown area. The new line will run from Union Passenger Terminal or UPT on Loyola Ave. to Canal St.

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority a $45 million to expand the streetcar service in the central  business district area.

The new streetcar line is 1.5 miles long and was granted by the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery or TIGER. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation website, the TIGER grant is part of the $840 billion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The U.S. Congress passed this bill in Feb. 2009. President Barack Obama signed  into law the same year.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has three main purposes: to generate new jobs and save the existing ones, to stimulate economic growth and promote accountability and transparency in government spending.

Bryan Sterling, a passenger,  said he is excited about the new streetcar line.  Sterling already foresaw how much easier the new line will make transportation in the city.

He said, “I think by the time they extended it, make it convenient for the community…yeah for the tourists and people traveling in and out.”

Sterling said the new street car will not only reduce the travel time, but it will also save passengers like him some money.

“…They don’t have to expend ten, fifteen dollars in the cab just to go down the street,” he said.
The RTA Marketing and Communication Specialist, Dominic Moncada said the $45 million project was a grant from the federal government. He also said the grant was specifically awarded to ease economic growth in the city.

“The New Orleans transit authority was awarded a TIGER grant, which is Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery… a grant from the transportation… the Department of Transportation of the United States,” Moncada said.

Moncada said the new line will be economically beneficial for the city of New Orleans. Moncada pointed his hand to the north of Loyola Ave. to show the reopening of the Hyatt Regency hotel last year.

A construction worker getting his tools. Photo by Wadner Pierre
The hotel is considered as one of the landmarks of  Loyola Ave. since its foundation in 1972. It was closed  after Hurricane Katrina. Fox News reported that Hurricane Katrina was the most devastated natural disaster that the city had never known, nearly 80 percent of the city of New Orleans were under water.

Moncada said other businesses like the new Rouses that opened last year, “is the anticipation of the new streetcar line.”

The mayor of New Orleans Mitchell J. Landrieu praised this project, and he said the streetcar one of the things that contributes to the uniqueness of the city.

Archer Western Contractors is the company that  handles the construction of the new streetcar line. The project is expected to be completed in the fall of this year.

New Orleans: Parades Kick-off

By Wadner Pierre
Parades are rolling in the streets of  New Orleans, although "Fat Tuesday" is two weeks away. “When the Saints go marching in” is being heard, beads are being thrown away.

The Mayor of New Orleans  Mitchell J. Landrieu invites people from all over the world to come to celebrate  carnival in his city.
the Mayor wrote "As Mayor of the great City of New Orleans, I invite you to visit our city to experience the excitement of Mardi Gras!"
A woman dancing with her umbrella on top of her head in a pre-carnival parade in the FrenchQuarter . Wadner Pierre
Photo byWadner Pierre

A member of Krewe da Max dances in FrencQuarter during the pre-carnival parade of the group organized.Wadner Pierre
Photo by Wadner Pierre

In New Orleans people parade anytime to have fun, drink and to celebrate a special occasion with friends.
David Cook, the founder of Krewe Da Max in Jefferson Parish organizes a pre-carnival parade each year to throw beads and have fun with friends.
He said, “ Work in the streets, throw some drinks, throw some beads, and spread the Mardi Gras joy.” Krewe Da Max is not a band, it  is rather a group of friends. Cook has been organized this parade for 18 years.
For Jennifer Jones, carnival is the spirit of New Orleans.
She said, “Fat Tuesday is the ultimatum of the epidemic of the New Orleans spirit. I mean, you’re leading up to it with all the creativity, frivolity, and the free spirit. And…you know laissez le bon temps rouler. ”
Carnival is one of the most popular celebrations in New Orleans. It attracts thousands of tourists from all over the U.S. and around the world. It helps to boost the New Orleans economy.
Carnival is the day prior to lent. Lent is the  holiest in the Catholic Churh. It is a forty-day penitential preparation before the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus-Christ.

Abortion: Pro-choice vs. Pro-life

By Wadner Pierre
 Thirty-nine years ago the U.S. Supreme Court took a decision to legalize abortion nationwide. Roe vs. Wade as the Court decision named continues to divide the nation into pro-choice and pro-life.

After nearly four decades abortion has remained a sensible topic at the workd place, church and at school.
Karin Curley a mass communication senior at Loyola University New Orleans has a different approach on abortion. Her concern is about overpopulating of the world.
Curley says, “For me it’s an environmental choice because the world is so overpopulated. So why put another human being into this world?”
Whatever someone’s stand on abortion, it is clear that abortion will remain a sensible and polarizing topic amongst the U.S. citizens.
Abortion will also continue to shape the U.S. political landscape, particularly during the election period.

Woody Forrest on his Musical Journey

By Wadner Pierre

The streets of New Orleans have become a place where musicians from all over the United States come to play, whether to have fun or to make a living.
Woody Forrest A songwriter and guitarist arrived in New Orleans three weeks ago from his home state of Vermont.

Each musician has a story of how he or she embarked in his or her musical journey. Some have decided to perform at bars or at church, and others prefer to play in the streets.
Woody Forrest has embraced the second option.
Woody Forest is a songwriter and guitarist. He left his home state of Vermont to come to New Orleans to play as a street musician.
 “I just decided to take it to the road. And so I hopped on the Greyhound came down to New Orleans,” Forrest said

As many with musicians, Forest fell in love with New Orleans’s cultural diversity. For the sake of this love, he embarked on a musical journey to experience it for himself and to be part of this culture.
Forrest said, “Just the culture of New Orleans. There are so many musicians and so many different types people.”

Forest said he enjoys playing in the streets, not only to make some money, but also to get experience and to entertain people.

“ To get experience and kinda learn how to play for people,” he said.

During the three weeks he has been playing in the streets Forest has discovered how much street musicians care for one another.

The brotherhood of street musicians seems to be one of the things that strikes Forest the most in his journey.

“I'll be walking down on the streets…you know broke a guitar string and I run in to another musician and they give me another guitar string,” he said while talking about his own experience.

Forest is working at a restaurant in the city, but he believes he can make a living by playing in the streets, even though sometimes the risk of making enough money to cover his expenses is high.
He said, “Yeah, probably you just have to put more hours.”

Forest said he has no plan to leave the streets anytime soon.

“I don’t know. Until I get bored of it,” he said.

From Dancing to Praying for Forgiveness

By Wadner Pierre
After dancing, catching beads, sharing some beers with friends and dressing up in the funniest way for fat Tuesday, Christian believers start their penitential ritual following “Fat Tuesday.”

Traditionally, “Fat Tuesday” is the celebration before Christian believers started their forty-day penitential preparation known as lent. The Lenten season is considered as the holiest time in the Catholic Church.
Rev. Donald Hawkins the pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Parish gives ash to a parishioner on Ash Wednesday.Photo by Wadner Pierre
On Ash Wednesday Christians begin the lenten season with different resolutions such as fasting, praying, caring more for one another, giving, and most importantly examining their relationships with god.
Jesuit priest Peter Rogers said the church has no official view on “Fat Tuesday,” but for him this day is a time to rejoice and express the good and bad within our society.
He said, “It is a joyful moment to uh…uh make fun of oneself. To playfully make fun of what is wrong in the society, what is wrong in the Church.”
 Kurt Bindewald the director of University Ministry at Loyola University New Orleans said “Fat Tuesday” should be a thanksgiving time.
 He said, “So this whole idea where people envision Mardi Gras to be like specially on bourbon street. It is not really the whole idea of Mardi Gras, but more about being a time to celebrate the abundance that we enjoy.
Rev. Rogers said the Church suggests different things people can do during the lent, but to be friendly and caring to one another is one of the most important things someone can do during this time
 “More important than that is that we…uh be kind to one and other. That we bite our tongues, and that be unpleasant. That we truly be people, individuals, individuals who love one another,” said Rev. Rogers.
During the forty-day of penitence, the church usually asks believers to repent and turn their faces to God, and to get ready to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus-Christ.

New Orleans Will Host The 2013 Super Bowl

 Although it is nine months away, the excitement of the super bowl is already felt in New Orleans. It is the first time since after Hurricane Katrina that the city will be the site for the championship game.

The championship game will take place in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Superdome has recently undergone a multimillion dollars renovation.

Kelly Schulz, the Vice-President of Communication and Public Relations of New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau said the Super Bowl will be beneficial for New Orleans.

“The Super Bowl is… obviously great for the city economy, but it’s also great from an image and perception standpoint. It’s gonna bring us an unbelievable publicity. Literally the eyes of the world will be on New Orleans for that week.”

The New Orleans saints won the Super Bowl two years ago in Miami. The 2013 championship game will be the tenth time New Orleans hosts the super bowl.
Fans hope the hype will bring on another victory.