Evolution of Environmental Practice
during Exploration at the Camp Caiman
Gold Project in French Guiana
Frederick T. Graybeal
The Camp Caiman gold project is on the south side of the Kaw Mountains, fifty kilometers southeast of Cayenne, French Guiana. French Guiana is an overseas department of France located about five hundred kilometers north of the mouth of the Amazon River. The project is accessible by paved road to within three kilometers of the exploration camp, then by forest road requiring four-wheel drive. The climate is typical of tropical rain forests with an average annual rainfall of four meters and an average maximum daily temperature of 32 degrees Centigrade.
In 1994 ASARCO Incorporated (Asarco), a large international mining company, identified French Guiana as a region with high potential for the discovery of gold. The Camp Caiman area had been identified previously by the Bureau de Recherches Geologiques et Minieres, a French government geological group, as a large area where gold values in soil were enormously high. In addition, several abandoned campsites and small ditches indicated the former presence of smallscale alluvial gold mining. Two exploration permits covering fifty square kilometers over the gold anomaly were acquired by Asarco in 1995 from the local French administration following a public tender. Three additional permits covering twenty-seven square kilometers were acquired in 1997, and an application for a further permit is pending.
Host rocks for gold mineralization are fine-grained sedimentary rocks which have been deformed along a zone of strong faulting (Adam et al. 1998). Gold mineralization is associated with zones of quartz veins and small amounts of sulfide minerals. All rocks have