Indigenous people warn the mine poses a serious threat to biodiversity, but their future and that of the forest lies in the hands of the French government
Through the window of the small propeller plane leaving the capital Cayenne, the jungle’s canopy stretches out as far as the eye can see.
More than 90% covered by luxuriant rainforest, French Guiana has little in common with mainland France bar the name.
Yet this corner of the Amazon forest is awaiting a decision by Emmanuel Macron’s government over the process of developing a controversial open-pit gold mine that would be the country’s largest.
Wedged between Brazil and Suriname and about the size of Portugal, French Guiana is one of France’s lesser-known overseas departments.
Its dense primary forest boasts unique biodiversity and remains mysteriously wild, with most of the population concentrated along the coast.
The territory has attracted shallow artisanal mining of its gold-rich clay for more than 150 years. Now , multinational companies are eyeing up deeper, untouched gold reserves.
The company is seeking an exploitation licence to excavate a mine the volume of 32 football stadiums in a remote part of the forest previously exploited for its gold- a project supported by Macron.
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