Global geological context and gold endowment of Suriname
Suriname, and the Guiana Shield, share the same geologic history as the West African Shield. The two shields contain gold-bearing greenstone belts that formed in the Eburnean and Trans Amazonian Orogenies about 2.2 billion years ago. They are currently separated by the Atlantic Ocean which started to split apart South America and Africa about 200 million years ago and continues to drift them apart today.
Pangea at 200 Ma illustrating the locations of the West African and Guiana Shields prior to the formation of the Atlantic Rift
In the Eburnean (West Africa) and Trans Amazonian (South America) orogenies, orogenic gold deposits were formed in greenstone belts that are in Mali, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Burkina Faso in west Africa and Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil in South America. Gold has been mined in West Africa since antiquity and modern, large scale mining started in the late 1800’s in Ghana. It is estimated that there are about 300 million ounces of gold that have been discovered and mined in West Africa. In South America, gold mining at small scales has been going on for about 200 years and the onset of large scale mining is very recent, for example, the first mine in Suriname at Rosebel only started production in 2000. It is estimated that there are about 100 million ounces of gold production plus reserves in the Guiana Shield of South America, even though the total area of greenstone belts is about the same as West Africa. Accordingly, there are probably at least another 100 million ounces of gold to be discovered in the Guiana Shield of South America.
Gold deposits and greenstone belts of West Africa and South America and the locations of the Nassau and Sandpiper Projects of 79North.
The eastern part of Suriname is underlain by the Marowijne greenstone belt. There are currently two large gold mines in production, the Rosebel Mine of Iamgold (in production since 2000 with 4.8 million ounces of past production, plus 5.5 million ounces of reserves @ 1.0 g/t, M&I of 9.1 million ounces @ 0.95 g/t gold, and 2.7 million ounces of inferred resources @ 1.0 g/t gold), and the Merian Mine of Newmont (in production since 2016 with 5.1 million ounces of reserves at 1.2 grams gold per tonne). The total annual gold production from these two mines is approximately 1 million ounces of gold. In addition, “informal” miners, locally known as porknockers, are producing gold from creek gravels and shallow pits in saprolite at countless excavator-sluice box operations throughout eastern Suriname. The total annual gold production by porknockers is not known because these mines do not report production statistics, however it is probably several hundred thousand ounces of gold.
Location of the Marowijne greenstone belt and gold deposits of Suriname and location of the Nassau and Sandpiper projects of 79North.
Shuttle Radar (SRTM) of Suriname illustrating gold deposits, the Nassau and Sandpiper Projects, and northwest-trending structures