Battling illegal gold mining in French Guiana

#1
Since the beginning of April 2009, more than 600 members of the French armed forces (army, air force and gendarmerie) have been sent to French Guyana to strengthen Operation Harpie against illegal gold mining.

Officially launched by the President of the Republic in February 2008, Harpie is a large-scale operation, conducted jointly by the gendarmerie forces (including the GIGN) and the armed forces in French Guiana. It is placed under the authority of the prefect and the public prosecutor for the court, and seeks to stifle the illegal gold mining areas and destabilize a sustainable economy.

On the ground, the target of the operation remains primarily those that provide logistics to the jungle based illegal sites. The illegal gold mining sites are identified with the support of the National Forestry Office (ONF) and the Parc de Guyane Amazon (PAG). River checkpoints are built by the army sappers and joint army and gendarmerie detachments are deployed. This network is supplemented by mobile patrols and joint operations in the depth of the jungle. An Twin Otter aircraft is also available to facilitate the deployment of detachments on hard to access areas, even during the rainy season.

In order to enforce the decrees limiting traffic on the river, the sappers of the 31st Engineer Regiment (31 RG) and the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment (3 REI) established deterrent dams IOT prevent illegal crossing points of rivers Maroni and Oyapok.

Last year 423 operations were carried out by the police with the support of military forces in Guyana resulting in the destruction or seizure of 63 kg gold and 323 kg of mercury, 653 pumps, 323 boats and 271 weapons. Operations have continued to be on the increase since.

http://www.defense.gouv.fr/ema/forc...utte_contre_l_orpaillage_clandestin_renforcee

The illegal gold miners are wrecking havoc on the primary jungle, releasing hundreds of kilos of mercury into the wild, turning thousands of hectares into wasteland in the process.
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#3
fantassin said:
Since the beginning of April 2009, more than 600 members of the French armed forces (army, air force and gendarmerie) have been sent to French Guyana to strengthen Operation Harpie against illegal gold mining.

Officially launched by the President of the Republic in February 2008, Harpie is a large-scale operation, conducted jointly by the gendarmerie forces (including the GIGN) and the armed forces in French Guiana. It is placed under the authority of the prefect and the public prosecutor for the court, and seeks to stifle the illegal gold mining areas and destabilize a sustainable economy.

On the ground, the target of the operation remains primarily those that provide logistics to the jungle based illegal sites. The illegal gold mining sites are identified with the support of the National Forestry Office (ONF) and the Parc de Guyane Amazon (PAG). River checkpoints are built by the army sappers and joint army and gendarmerie detachments are deployed. This network is supplemented by mobile patrols and joint operations in the depth of the jungle. An Twin Otter aircraft is also available to facilitate the deployment of detachments on hard to access areas, even during the rainy season.

In order to enforce the decrees limiting traffic on the river, the sappers of the 31st Engineer Regiment (31 RG) and the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment (3 REI) established deterrent dams IOT prevent illegal crossing points of rivers Maroni and Oyapok.

Last year 423 operations were carried out by the police with the support of military forces in Guyana resulting in the destruction or seizure of 63 kg gold and 323 kg of mercury, 653 pumps, 323 boats and 271 weapons. Operations have continued to be on the increase since.

http://www.defense.gouv.fr/ema/forc...utte_contre_l_orpaillage_clandestin_renforcee

The illegal gold miners are wrecking havoc on the primary jungle, releasing hundreds of kilos of mercury into the wild, turning thousands of hectares into wasteland in the process.
When I was there a lot of mainly foreign legion troops were based there permanently to guard all the Arianespace installations, is this in addition?
Awful place, even the butterflies are poisonous and bite....
 
#4
Bouillabaisse said:
So? French troops deploy in France to support the police. Your point?
Perhaps he just thought people might find it interesting, what with this being a military forum and all...
 
#5
Mr_Deputy said:
Oh for goodness sake - let them have a bit of gold! Its a desperately poor and harsh country you could at least let have the locals some of their OWN gold.

Next up : SAS and Marines deployed to stop British peasants taking fallen wood from common woodland for their cooking fires.
Nah, b0ll0cks, if they didn't deserve exploiting, they wouldn't have let themselves be colonised would they? the Japs & thais managed not to...
 
#6
Mr_Deputy said:
Oh for goodness sake - let them have a bit of gold! Its a desperately poor and harsh country you could at least let have the locals some of their OWN gold.

Next up : SAS and Marines deployed to stop British peasants taking fallen wood from common woodland for their cooking fires.
You shouldn't joke. You actually have to purchase a licence from the Forrestry Commision to do that, in North Wales the FC have been talking about (I think they have actually done so) withdrawing those licences and making it illegal to collect firewood.....
 
#7
Mr_Deputy said:
jagman said:
Mr_Deputy said:
Oh for goodness sake - let them have a bit of gold! Its a desperately poor and harsh country you could at least let have the locals some of their OWN gold.

Next up : SAS and Marines deployed to stop British peasants taking fallen wood from common woodland for their cooking fires.
You shouldn't joke. You actually have to purchase a licence from the Forrestry Commision to do that, in North Wales the FC have been talking about (I think they have actually done so) withdrawing those licences and making it illegal to collect firewood.....
I know. A chap with the same name as me has, in the past, on dark winter nights, takes tall thick wooden poles for garden use etc and does so with his heart in his mouth. Even tho the forestry guys have already cut them and are just leaving them to rot - the rules are stated on boards around the forest. Modern life is complicated. He said.
Madness isn't it?
 
#8
The FFL unit in Guyana is the 3 REI and it only has one rifle Coy and one HQ Coy as well as some Mistral SHORADS ADA systems. It is reinforced every 4 months by three roulement Coy, one from a France-based FFL unit and two others from any other FR army unit. They do protect the Arianespace launching pad in Kourou but now they also do quite a lot of support to those Harpie Ops that have been going on for at least 4 years now.

3 REI website: http://www.legion-3rei.com/

Also known as "Anaconda" Ops in the past, they have recently gained a new impetus since the illegal gold miners, the brazilian Garimpeiros are really creating an ecological disaster over there, poisoning the waterways and turning the jungle into dead land full of mercury (used to separate gold from debris). The Garimpeiros create their own little towns, complete with bars, brothel and general store in the middle of the jungle, in places only reachable by longboats or helicopter.

Actually, almost half of Guyana is a "prohibiten zone" where one can't go unless you have a state authorization. This was done to protect the local indians as well as the local ressources but those gold miners have no respect for both.
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
Bradstyley said:
Bouillabaisse said:
So? French troops deploy in France to support the police. Your point?
Perhaps he just thought people might find it interesting, what with this being a military forum and all...
French Guyana is a department of France. Fantassin has a massive desire to demonstrate thatt he French military aren't a bunch of white flag carrying run away merchants and that the french army deploys. Well, if Guyana is part of France then this story is no more interesting than "French troops deploy to the Loire valley."
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#10
Bouillabaisse said:
Bradstyley said:
Bouillabaisse said:
So? French troops deploy in France to support the police. Your point?
Perhaps he just thought people might find it interesting, what with this being a military forum and all...
French Guyana is a department of France. Fantassin has a massive desire to demonstrate thatt he French military aren't a bunch of white flag carrying run away merchants and that the french army deploys. Well, if Guyana is part of France then this story is no more interesting than "French troops deploy to the Loire valley."
What is the problem? There is enough French bashing on Arrse to make it interesting to have a pro-French opinion.
I suspect a great many on here did not know where French Guyana is, or its status.
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
Alsacien said:
What is the problem? There is enough French bashing on Arrse to make it interesting to have a pro-French opinion.
I suspect a great many on here did not know where French Guyana is, or its status.
The initial post seemed to imply that the French were deploying on a policing role in a foreign territory. Except its not foreign under French law, any more than the Isle of Wight is foreign to Britain. And I repeat, so what? Fantassin posed no question, made no comment. A cut and paste job doesn't provide a "pro-French opinion."
 
#12
Bouillabaisse said:
Bradstyley said:
Bouillabaisse said:
So? French troops deploy in France to support the police. Your point?
Perhaps he just thought people might find it interesting, what with this being a military forum and all...
French Guyana is a department of France. Fantassin has a massive desire to demonstrate thatt he French military aren't a bunch of white flag carrying run away merchants and that the french army deploys. Well, if Guyana is part of France then this story is no more interesting than "French troops deploy to the Loire valley."
OK note to mods-delete EVERY thread on Northern Ireland ever then, as its not interesting according to bouilabasse's logic...
 
#13
Bouillabaisse said:
Alsacien said:
What is the problem? There is enough French bashing on Arrse to make it interesting to have a pro-French opinion.
I suspect a great many on here did not know where French Guyana is, or its status.
The initial post seemed to imply that the French were deploying on a policing role in a foreign territory. Except its not foreign under French law, any more than the Isle of Wight is foreign to Britain. And I repeat, so what? Fantassin posed no question, made no comment. A cut and paste job doesn't provide a "pro-French opinion."
Title of the thread: "Battle illegal gold mining in FRENCH Guiana" (My capital). What makes you think I "imply that the French were deploying on a policing role in a foreign territory" ? Is French Guiana not clear enough ?

I made a comment, the last sentences of the first post, IOT explain why it was important to battle those illegal miners that are killing off the world's largest reserve of oxygen with irresponsible behaviour.

This post is for information purpose because I tend to think, and apparently I am not alone, that a western country engaged in primary jungle police operation, something which is not exactly happening every day esp. when it involves military units and assets, could be of interest to people going on a military site.

It would be nice not to let your pathological anti-French bias get in the way of everything you post. But then , this is maybe asking too much...
 
#15
Je Parle le Francais tres mauvais , mes ami (as this 'sentence' demonstrates)! My nose is more Semitic then Gallic, Frankish being perhaps the only one of europes many ethnicities I have no part of, I just thought that was a bit of a bone thing to say...we all like to dig out the frog army due to 1415, 1815, 1870 and 1940, but y'know, Rocroi, Austerlitz, Jena-Auerstadt, Eylau, Friedland, Wagram etc. I can't help it The three Musketeers and The Exploits of the Baron de marbot are 2 of my favourite books!
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#16
Mr_Deputy said:
Bouillabaisse said:
I'm not saying whether the story is interesting or not. But neither is fantassin. He's not said anything.
you could be the same person for all I know!
Anyway - vive le 3 rei may their jungle boots not rot and their bayonets not get rusty.
I may not have all my marbles anymore but I haven't started arguing with myself yet
 
#17
Bouillabaisse said:
Bradstyley said:
Bouillabaisse said:
So? French troops deploy in France to support the police. Your point?
Perhaps he just thought people might find it interesting, what with this being a military forum and all...
French Guyana is a department of France. Fantassin has a massive desire to demonstrate thatt he French military aren't a bunch of white flag carrying run away merchants and that the french army deploys. Well, if Guyana is part of France then this story is no more interesting than "French troops deploy to the Loire valley."

...a bit nicer than Otterburn.

:wink: :wink: :wink:

Rodney2q
 
#18
With reference to French Guyana and the Legion, I was chatting to an ex FFL security contractor who described the most ballsy brit deserter from the legion he knew. The bloke swam across a frontier river (most likely towards surinam) then made it back to the UK. Apparently he then joined the British Army and went to Sandhurst and had to keep a low profile during the final exercise in France.
 
#19
It's the Maroni river. Saint Laurent du Maroni is where the convicts deported to Guiana arrived (remember Papillon ? His cell can be visited there). The remains of the jetty were they landed was still visible when I went over there almost 15 years ago.

What is now more current than Brit deserters of the FFL going the other way are pregnant women from Surinam just about to deliver illegaly crossing into French Guiana so they can get free medical treatment as well as the French nationality for their children...same things happens in Mayotte in the Comoroes archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#20
fantassin said:
What is now more current than Brit deserters of the FFL going the other way are pregnant women from Surinam just about to deliver illegaly crossing into French Guiana so they can get free medical treatment as well as the French nationality for their children...same things happens in Mayotte in the Comoroes archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
I bet you're grateful that you didn't manage to keep Algeria as a department of France after all. That would be one long border to protect against illegal immigrants.
 

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