A gold rush is shaping up in Haiti’s north. Some – like the new prime minister – say the $20 billion worth of copper, silver and gold buried in the country’s hills could help Haiti escape its dependency on foreign aid and rebuild from the devastating 2010 earthquake.
In a nation with unemployment as high as 70%, where more than half the population lives on less than $1 a day, and where most of the government’s budget is paid for with foreign assistance, the buried treasure sounds like El Dorado. Speaking at the Senate this month, the international telecommunications entrepreneur Laurent Lamothe said: “Our subsoil is rich in minerals. Now is the time to dig them up.”
But many are nervous that the mines will be boom for foreign investors and bust for local communities and the state coffers. Licences are being awarded behind the closed doors of a government whose slogan is “Haiti is open for business”.