Dominican Republic has significant mineral wealth. It has deposits of gold, silver, nickel, copper and bauxite, as well as marble, limestone, gypsum, granite and its aggregates. Miners also extracted amber and larimar from within the country. Larimar is only found in the Dominican Republic and is a very popular gemstones used in fine jewelry design. Gemstone mining has its own rich history in the Dominican Republic.
Gold in the beds and river terraces of the country was the only mineral resource exploited during pre-Columbian times. After a history marked by a limited development at an early stage, mining activity has now becomes an intensive development, especially with the remarkable rise in the price of gold over the past decade.
The regions of Miches and Monción are the main mining areas within the Dominican Republic, with hundreds of artisanal miners prospecting in this region.
The most important areas are of Miches in the eastern part of the country, the Rio Mao (Moncion) further west, the valley of the Rio Haina in Villa Altagracia, and San Francisco de Macoris in the Centre-North.
All these areas are accessible to and from the city of Santo Domingo.
An area near the southern town of Mina is known to have gold. Watercourses and river terraces along the Cuarón River and Arroyo Claro are known to have gold deposits. The alluvial gold of Monción belong to the Mao River Basin, which run west of the province of Santiago de los Caballeros, draining the northwest slope of the Central Cordillera. This river descends from 1.500 meters in height to 50 meters at its highest journey, flowing NNE and joining the Rio Yaque del Norte.
Due to the recorded events around gold exports to Spain, it is believed that the start of mining by Spanish explorers in the Dominican Republic was around 1494. The subsequent demand for gold and other precious metals began a rudimentary mining industry when these explorers began arriving in this region and started exploiting the resources here.
In the early years of the 16th century, more and more settlers came to the island in search of precious metals, which at the time were mainly found in the beds of rivers where placer deposits were easiest to recover. The local Arawak Indians that inhabited the islands were enslaved to work the mines on the island.
However, by 1525, much of the mining activity here was abandoned due to lack of labor. The Europeans traveling to the new world brought diseases that killed huge amounts of natives of the island, who had no resistance to these new diseases that they were exposed to. Additionally, several decades of mining meant that the easiest gold deposits had begun to be worked out.
Looking forward to 1921, American geologists surveying the country re-confirmed the presence of valuable mineral deposits in the Dominican Republic. More specifically, they concluded that there was gold and nickel in Bonao Cotui.
Gold, silver, copper, zinc, nickel and bauxite head the list of minerals in which search is exploring and drilling Dominican territory in several locations.
In 1975, a modern gold rush began in the country, with the exploitation of oxides of Pueblo Viejo by the foreign company Rosario Resourcesen, which was nationalized by the Dominican government in 1979. The government maintained the mine in operation until it exhausted oxides. To exploit sulfides, new technology was required because gold is no longer on the surface, but deeper.
During the 1960s, gold had a share in the GDP at just 2%, but managed to more than double its importance in the economy during the 70s, when the industry reached its golden age, achieving in 1976 represent 6.2% of GDP.
A major fault line runs along the islands of the Caribbean, which has been responsible for the geologic conditions that create the high concentrations of gold and nickel. There is still good potential for mining here and many junior mining companies are actively exploring within the country in search of new deposits that will be profitable to mine in the future.
Also Read: Gold Mining in Guatemala
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