Developing innovative and sustainable mining exploration in Suriname
"When international companies come to Suriname they want to see data”,says Dimitri Lemmer, CEO of Consolidated Resources Suriname CRS, when asked about what motivated him to create the company. After three years of meeting international investors while he worked for the state
mining company, he realized there was a gap between what was internationally accepted and required, and what Suriname was ready to deliver. And so, in order to fill that gap, he and his team envisioned a company that would specialize on providing potential international investors all the data and assistance required for developing sustainable greenfield mining projects. “We believe it is important to have good exploration data in place before you begin exploitation. If you have no data it is very difficult to talk with international investors on the same level. A lot of permit owners have high expectations of partnerships but they don’t invest in data, and as such doing business is very challenging. That is what makes us different from most companies in the Surinamese mining sector”, assures Mr. Lemmer.
With this innovative approach, they focus on identifying, acquiring and exploring multiple mineral projects with large scale potential for reputable international stakeholders. So far, they have worked on the exploration of gold, granite rock and silica sand, but as they know better than most, it is still early days in the uncovering of the real potential Suriname has in the mining
industry. Wanting to become the preferred exploration partner in the country together with Hazlo Geosolutions, they offer a wide range of services such as exploration planning, implementation and project management; permit and license acquisition; data capture and reporting; desk studies and technical report writing; exploration drilling management; creation and implementation of drilling programs; core logging, mapping and sampling and logistics. “We cater to all the needs of foreign companies that want to do mining exploration here”, says
CRS started operations officially in 2018 by researching all the available information and past studies done in the gold sector from the 1970s onward. They found that although some studies existed, low gold prices and logistic difficulties to reach certain areas made them not economically feasible at the time, and thus were abandoned. After doing some remodeling and recalculations, they presented their results to several consultant partners, Benjamin Libby and Australian CSA Global amongst them, and in 2019 they signed their first partnership agreement with Glen Parsons (Guggenheim Exploration/CGR). Working as their strategic partners in Suriname, they identified a land package that was logistically viable and justified investing in the country, and soon after they started gold exploration in the Goliath Mountain area.
Later on, when the COVID crisis arrived, they found themselves in a difficult yet promising position. Because of travel restrictions, some international companies that were reluctant to be guided by Surinamese knowledge in the past, found themselves having to partner with local companies. Since CRS had a competitive advantage in terms of knowledge, skills and services offered they were chosen and given free rein. “We were the most advanced in that moment, we had the right people and the key tools that helped us gain trust. They gave us a lot of freedom to work on our own and we complied”, highlights Mr. Lemmer.
Around the same time, based on data findings and projections, one of their geologists developed a potentially revolutionary concept. It stated that the known Greenstone belt of Suriname was 15 to 30% larger than what was officially recognized, thus opening a new realm of mining possibilities for the country. After his report was shared with several international investors, it called the attention of Reunion Gold, and in 2020 they signed a partnership agreement with them for the exploration of gold looking forward to test their hypothesis. “For a company of our size,
that is a real milestone”, says Mr. Lemmer proudly. Additionally, they have recently signed
an agreement with Energold Drilling, a global drilling solutions company that will start providing its services in Suriname next year. “Competition in the drilling surfaces is good for Suriname. It helps to get prices down, to have more international quality in the country, and to attract Surinamese drilling companies to participate”, adds Mr. Lemmer. Furthermore, while currently they are mostly focused on gold exploration, based on previous studies and prospective analysis they believe there is a huge potential to find and exploit other minerals, particularly copper and
lithium, as long as the government allows the necessary permits to start explorations. “We are convinced Suriname has a very large copper potential, particularly in the south of the country, and when you look at new technologies like the electric cars, you know copper will be very
important in the coming years. That is also the case with lithium, which is widely used in electronic devices and batteries”, says Mr. Lemmer. And while they respect the government’s caution in granting permits, they believe it is important to distinguish speculators from companies like CRS, which are investing substantially on exploration and accreditation before they go to international investors. “From our own experience, we know how these companies
think. We know there has been a shift from safety towards the environment and SDGs, we share the same mentality and that is why we have invested on being certified”, assures Mr. Lemmer while explaining that they place a lot of emphasis on educating their own people on the importance of SDGs “not only on paper but by making it a part of our program, because that is the only way we can get Suriname and ourselves to the next level.” In order to get there, they
are aware there are still several challenges ahead. One of them is the consistency of government policies towards mining, particularly in relation to privileging small or large scale operations. “Either you go for the small scale mining or you go for the larger projects that are more environmentally sustainable and make small miners a part of them. If policies are transparent and consistent, all other things can be managed”, assures Mr. Lemmer. Another challenge is related to sustainability, because they have to comply with the internationally recognized standards they have set when working with foreign companies, and the local realities can sometimes hinder those objectives. Nonetheless, “that is non-negotiable for us”, he says. A third challenge is related with the development of the labor force in Suriname. As he explains, although there are qualified professionals, many lack hands-on experience on technical areas,
like greenfield exploration for instance; while others need to be qualified. “If you want to do
projects with a large positive impact, you need qualified people. But to have qualified people
you need the resources to train them. Right now we find there are not enough qualified geologists available and we have to bring them from abroad for the large programs. And that is a
pity because we want to employ more of our people”, continues Mr. Lemmer. In the meantime, although there are challenges, there are also big opportunities. In the next five to ten years they will stay focused on gold, because that is what the country is known for, there is a strong legislation in place, good experience and many interested investors, especially from United States and the Middle East, the U.A.E in particular, which have expressed interest on previous occasions. As they see it, there is enough potential to develop both satellite, smaller mines, as well as at least one large mine. “We expect that in the coming five years we will have enough data to justify another mine of the same potential of the two large ones we have already”, states Mr. Lemmer. They also expect that both copper and lithium explorations will take place and start being exploited, with enormous potential. Diamond exploration, exploitation and/or processing is
another area that could be successfully developed, as there is already a big interest from Middle Eastern countries. In the near future, they plan to start two large diamond drilling programs of at least 10.000 m, a large exploration for Surinamese standards, and expect the first results of their
current exploration programs by the end of March next year. “If our program is successful, at least one major operator will be looking seriously towards Suriname, and we are convinced we will be the game-changing partner in justifying the next large mine in the country”, assures Mr. Lemmer, feeling very positive about his company’s future and that of the mining sector. After all, as he concludes “Suriname is a big unpolished diamond.”
Bron: ONE WORLD MEDIA SURINAME