Good News for Haiti: Gold!

Troubled nation starts digging for $20B fortune
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2012 2:40 PM CDT
Good News for Haiti: Gold!
In this April 10, 2012 photo, geologist Francisque Pierre examines samples of stone to be examined for minerals and metals in the department of Trou Du Nord, Haiti.   (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

What news for a nation blighted by poverty, disease, and a devastating earthquake: Haiti is home to lucrative gold mines. And copper and silver ones too. Potentially worth $20 billion, the precious metal finds are already creating hundreds of jobs and new roads, the AP reports. What's more, mining by US and Canadian firms should leave Haitians with about half the profits—an unusually high amount. But history shows there are pitfalls aplenty for Haitii to avoid.

Open pit mines—the world's most common type—usually last for about 25 years, but leave decimated mountaintops, displaced communities, and environmental contamination. Haiti in particular is known for its corrupt government, and officials who would regulate the mines don't yet exist. On the positive side, people like stone cutter Joseph Bernard, 47, are getting a paycheck and feeding their family. "I found a job, but many didn't," he says. "If more companies come, more people will work." (Read more Haiti stories.)

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