By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- Just over a year after Suriname and a United Arab Emirates company, Kaloti Jeweler, signed a joint venture to refine Suriname’s gold, construction of the mint has commenced, which will allow this South American nation, rich in gold, to take a larger profit from gold export.
When the contract was signed in December 2011, President Desi Bouterse said, "With the advent of a mint, the state will be able to keep control of all the gold leaving the country. We will therefore be able to collect taxes efficiently and effectively. All in all, it is a very important step forward in the general interest of Suriname to the control of all gold leaving the country. Kaloti indeed has many years of experience in doing business in Suriname and is capable of refining gold with a purity of 99.99%.”
The mint is being built in close proximity to Suriname’s Johan Pengel International Airport for security and transportation factors.
Winston Wilson, representative of Kaloti in Suriname, told Star News last week that the mint will help control and account for gold leaving the country.
"Then everyone knows exactly how much gold leaves the country, because with the advent of the refinery, the value can be determined on the basis of international standards," said Wilson.
According to Wilson, the agreement between the two parties will ensure that Surinamese are employed at the mint, which will allow for the transfer of technology.
"The contract calls for 95 percent of the employees to be Surinamese. Some of the initial employees will be trained in Dubai where Kaloti is headquartered. Experts will also travel to Suriname to train employees. Initially, about twenty people will work in the refinery.
"Suriname will be an important player in the region when it comes to technological development and having its own refinery, based on international standards," said Wilson.
Suriname will also able to refine gold from other countries in the region.
It will be a very modern refinery, which is being built by a reputable company, Lincoln NV Engineering Firm, together with Kaloti.
Wilson noted that a contract will be concluded between the government, IAMGOLD and Surgold. As well, legislation will be put in place to control gold leaving Suriname, which will be prepared by members of the National Assembly.
The government and assembly are working on the draft laws. According to Wilson, the legislation should be amended so that all rules are clear to everyone.
Kaloti has a majority stake in the venture and the rest includes the state of Suriname and the private sector.