Remi Piet: Suriname Miners Need to Future-proof Operations

Precious Metals

An upcoming election in Suriname means that operators like IAMGOLD and Newmont need to start engaging with all political players.

Upcoming elections in Suriname mean that miners there need to be assessing how they operate going forward, according to Remi Piet, senior director at Americas Market Intelligence.

“It’s likely that (Suriname President) Desi Bouterse will not be re-elected in 2020,” said Piet in an interview with the Investing News Network.

Piet explained that Bouterse — who is a longtime major player in Suriname politics, first as the country’s dictator between 1980 and 1987 following a coup, and then as its elected president from 2010 onwards — is facing increased uncertainty in the lead up to the 2020 election after being sentenced to 20 years in jail in November of last year over crimes committed while he was dictator.

Bouterse, who Piet described as a charismatic leader, is a convicted drug trafficker, has links to the informal mining community and has had murder charges hanging over him for many years. Bouterse has been open about his checkered past and has even celebrated it.

His sentencing in November of last year is the culmination of the murder charges — which relate to the killing of 15 political opponents in 1982. The sentence was passed down by a Suriname military court.

Piet said that for Bouterse, this development could suck oxygen out of his efforts to be re-elected, and for mining companies operating in the country that may have been operating “too close” to Bouterse, it could mean turbulent times ahead.

“(In a country like Suriname) you cannot not have a relationship with the presidency,” he said. “Companies need to be able to make sure they can continue to operate under a government that is not led by Bouterse.”

Two companies that investors will be very familiar with, and which have significant operations in Suriname, are IAMGOLD (TSX:IMG,NYSE:IAG) with its Rosebel mine, which produced 287,000 ounces of gold in 2018, and Newmont (TSX:NGT,NYSE:NEM), which operates the Merian gold mine. Merian has an annual production of 400,000 ounces, with a target of 500,000 in the near future.

“The reputation of the two companies is very different in Suriname. (There are) ways to improve — especially for IAMGOLD — by working as soon as possible and being very clear in terms of engaging with the opposition parties in Suriname on a framework and an agreement on how they operate.”

Piet also shared his thoughts on how companies and investors should do their due diligence, and how someone thinking about investing in Suriname can start. Listen to the full interview above for more.

The election in Suriname is scheduled for May 2020.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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