Rosebel Gold Mines strives to conserve Suriname’s cultural heritage

News 2021
16 September 2021

What if, while exploring the forest, an employee finds an old clay pot? Or a cave with petroglyphs? What should they do? Walk by and ignore it?

"No!”, says Mimosa Aboikoni firmly. Mimosa is the Community Liaison Officer in the Community Relations Department (CRD) at Rosebel Gold Mines (RGM) and explains that "the employee should report their find to the supervisor and the Cultural Heritage Management Program (CHMP) is immediately activated."

The objective of the program is to protect cultural heritage in every form within Rosebel Gold Mines' (RGM) concession area, as much as possible. The idea is to reduce the further destruction of this cultural heritage and to ensure that any site remains protected. This program is conducted in coordination with the Directorate of Culture. Preceding any activity involving the placing of unspoiled nature into protection, a preliminary archaeological survey of the area is conducted in conjunction with the Directorate.

This procedure already resulted in the discovery of a cave Rupicola, in Suriname. The archaeological team of the Directorate of Culture has decided to further investigate the cave in August this year.

Mimosa explains that an important part of the CHMP program is the development of the Chance Find Training. During this training, employees learn how to act when they accidentally come across cultural heritage, an artifact, cave or petroglyph while working in the field. The single most important step to be learned is to immediately stop working and to notify the supervisor. The area should then be marked out and they should wait for further instructions from the CRD and Environmental departments. The training also teaches employees what is meant by cultural heritage and how to recognize it.

According to the Community Liaison Officer, the Chance Find procedure is an important step for RGM to comply with the Monuments Act and the International Finance Corporation Environmental and Social Performance Standard 8 (IFC PS8).

Monuments Act

Suriname’s Monuments Act of 2002 defines "monuments" as all immovable properties or sections that are older than fifty years. They also have to be of general interest because of aesthetic and artistic values or of scientific, archaeological, anthropological, historical or architectural interest to Suriname. They comprise tangible or intangible forms of cultural heritage such as properties, objects, sites, structures or groups of structures, which have archaeological (prehistoric), paleontological, historical, cultural, artistic or religious value. This also includes unique natural features or objects that you can touch that have cultural value, such as sacred forests, rocks, lakes and waterfalls. The Surinamese Cultural Heritage is protected by Surinamese law.

Cultural Heritage sources are an important part of the local identity. By respecting the cultural heritage, RGM is respecting the local community. Cultural Heritage is a non-renewable cultural source. Once a cultural heritage source (for example a rock with drawings from prehistoric times) is destroyed, it cannot be recreated.