More manpower to battle illegal gold mining in French Guyana

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by fantassin, Jul 9, 2010.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Illegal gold mining is becoming an ever more pressing issue in French Guyana. Operating deep in the jungle, illegal Brazilian gold miners turn huge tracts of tropical rainforest into wastelands through the use of deadly chemicals and powerful sluice. This threatens local indian tribes as well as a preserved environment.

    In order to support both gendarmerie and army units, the French armed forces will create two new rifle companies mainly dedicated to the task of tracking and destroying illegal settlements and mining equipment.

    Two new companies will be stood up this summer within both the 3 REI (a FFL unit) located in Kourou and the 9 RIMa (Marine Rgt) located in Cayenne, French Guyana, to specifically target the illegal gold diggers and all the associated illegal activities (human trafficking, prostitution, pollution etc.).

    They will be supported by 3 Casa CN 235 transport aircrafts, 2 Puma and one Fennec (AS 355) helicopters.
    An old Guardian article explaining the situation

    Illegal, polluting and dangerous: the gold rush in French Guiana | Environment | The Guardian

    To give an idea of the size of the problem, here is a list of the equipment seized in the 2010 "Harpie" anti-illegal gold mining operations carried out in the first half of 2010 in French Guyana :

    263 longboats, 162 ATVs, 221 cubic metres of POL, 84 kg of mercury (used to separate gold but a deadly poison generally released into the jungle by the gold diggers), 10 kg of gold and 160 generators.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Excellent Topic Excellent Topic x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. Isn't there already a Foreign Legion presence to protect the Ariane launch facilities at Kourou?
  3. The FFL's 3 REI based in Kourou which is in charge of the security of the Ariane launch pad will create (actually recreate since it had been disbanded in the early 2000s) a rifle Coy IOT tackle illegal gold mining.

    Since I wrote this post, an infantryman from the 1er RI operating against the illegal gold miners has been posted as MIA. Last Thursday, his launch was rammed at night and on purpose by a bigger cargo-carrying boat resupplying illegal gold miners.

    The launch was sunk, one soldier was injured and another was thrown, probably unconscious, into the river and he has not been seen since. His life jacket and rifle have been recovered but not his body. He his not the first serviceman to die in those operations, a gendarmerie Sgt Maj having drowned last year in strange circumstances and a civilian having been executed by the illegal gold miners for providing info to the French security forces.
  4. An anti-illegal gold mining Op, Op Ambaki, has just been concluded in French Guyana.

    It had started on 16 FEB 15 and over 400 soldiers and gendarmes were involved. For the Army, the units were the FFL's resident unit, the 3erégiment étranger d’infanterie (3eREI), while the Troupes de Marine contributed with their own resident unit, the 9erégiment d’infanterie de Marine (9eRIMa)

    The results are:


    465 grams of gold
    3.640 kg mercury (used to separate gold and the main source of environmental poisoning)
    68 outboard engines
    18 stone grinders
    23 water pumps
    15 engines
    20 quad bikes
    20 launches
    73 generators


    10 mine shafts and 1 tunnel

    It is estimated that about 30% of the illegal gold mining sites run by Brazilian garimpeiros were affected by this Op.


    Destruction of a pump.



    One the seized quads.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. I know who I'd want to speak to .....

  6. I don't know about this program but looking at some of the fat b@stard visible on the show's website, I doubt they'd last very long in the jungle....your average Garimpeiros tends to be of the low-fat, lean type....

  7. Pics from another recent anti illegal gold mining in FRA Guyana. The unit visible here is the 1er Régiment d'Infanterie.







    The jungle is turned into a wasteland through massive injection of poisons such as mercury used in the gold separation process.

    • Like Like x 1
  8. brettarider

    brettarider On ROPs

    Do they keep the quads and outboards/launches? Would be good if they were passed onto the locals as ongoing support.
  9. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    The complex at La Salada, near Segovia, Antioquia, Colombia where my father worked featured El Silencio, then the second deepest mine in South America. There had been five mines in the complex, it was down to two in the mid-60s. He managed the second.

    It might have been deep, but there must have been gold close enough to the surface for it to be worthwhile simply digging into the hillsides, because wherever you went up the ulu, you'd find random holes, six feet high and shaped like "the arched window" where the locals had been looking for the mother lode.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  10. I don't know for sure what is done with the seized equipment as some of it may be considered as part of legal proceedings.

    The fate of the gold recovered during this Op is always a case for concern for the police authorities as the temptation to pocket what has been seized in the heart of the jungle before reporting the find is always there.

    One of the casualties of these low intensity Ops: Adjudant-chef Franck Robin, of the French Gendarmerie, was WIA by a garimpeiros in FRA Guyana in 2011; paralysed from the waist down, he won 2 gold medals at the Invictus games in 2014.




    • Like Like x 1
  11. Snipped for brevity.


    Not exactly going to be self financing at that rate.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. I spent some time in Guyana which is in the same part of the world as the French bit back in 1975. I would imagine there are similar problems there. Anybody heard anything on the grapevine or whatever?

  13. The issue at stake is the contamination of the environment with all sorts of deadly poison (mercury, lead, cyanide...) being released in large quantities as well as the preservation of some indigenous Indian tribes. The pics below give a small idea of the impact on the environment but the main damage (contaminated waters) is invisible.




    • Informative Informative x 1
  14. I was being facetious about what looked to be a remarkably small amount of gold given the size of the mess they make getting at it and the sheer size of the operation.