|HOME SCHEDULE AUTHOR INDEX SUBJECT INDEX|
Do international gold prices drive the Amazon gold rush? An economic analysis.
Heemskerk, Marieke1, 1
ABSTRACT- Researchers are concerned with the social and ecological disruption produced by gold mining booms, yet how such events arise remains poorly understood. This paper tests two conventional hypotheses: (1) international prices of gold drive the Amazon gold rush, and (2) national economic recession encourages small-scale gold mining. The paper suggests a simple empirical model to study the relation between international and national processes and local level subsistence choices. The model is based on time series data from Suriname where, since the mid- 1980s, increasing numbers of forest peoples have become gold miners. Survey data were collected among the Ndjuka, a tribal group in the Suriname Amazon. The personal gold mining histories of 146 Njduka were used to estimate the changes in the Ndjuka participation in gold mining over time. The estimated change in the mining population was regressed against macroeconomic indicators of international commodity markets and national economic recession for the period 1973-1998. The most counterintuitive finding is that small-scale gold miners do not seem to respond to changes in global gold prices. Indicators of national economic recession correlated positively with small-scale gold mining. The findings suggest that discouraging unsustainable resource extraction by local people will not result from price manipulations. Rather, forest conservation requires national economic stabilization.
KEY WORDS: amazon, small-scale gold mining, social-ecological interactions, ecological economics