Venezuela MOU paving way for largest gold mine?

Last week (Feb 2016), I had the opportunity to travel to Caracas and witness a new chapter in the development of Gold Reserve Inc's Brisas Gold Project: the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Venezuela during an event hosted at Venezuela’s Central Bank (depicted below).   Shortlink:

MOU signing between Gold Reserve and Venezuela

Given the drop in oil prices, the main income source of Venezuela’s oil-based economy, and risks of defaulting on its bonds, Venezuela has been re-considering how to mobilize its other natural resources – the “Mining Arc of Orinoco” - to act as a powerful new engine for development.

Mining Arc of Orinoco Venezuela

As announced in Gold Reserve’s 02/29/2016 media release, the MOU with Venezuela contemplates burying the hatches, payment and resolution of the arbitral award granted in favor of Gold Reserve by the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), as well as the joint development of Brisas and the adjacent Cristinas gold-copper project.

The combined Brisas-Cristinas Project, a gold-copper deposit located in the Kilometer 88 mining district of Bolivar State in south eastern Venezuela, when constructed, is anticipated to be the largest gold mine in South America and one of the largest in the world.

I was fortunate to be invited to join Gold Reserve for this exciting visit to Venezuela due to my previous involvement in dealing with the social aspects of the Brisas Project ESIA, and, subsequently, contributing to the successful ICSID arbitration case.

Looking back, the sprawling artisanal and small scale mining (depicted on featured image) and the presence of indigenous groups and territories are but some of the challenges a combined Brisas-Cristinas Project would need to address effectively. No doubt, the positive relationships and creative solutions Gold Reserve's team had developed will provide a good re-entry point.