PARAMARIBO, Suriname, July 6 (Reuters) - Rosebel Gold Mine N.V., the joint venture between Suriname’s government and Canada’s Iamgold Corp, says its net profit rose 7.6 percent last year to $210.9 million.
The mine in the South American country is one of the biggest operated by Iamgold. Last month, the Toronto-listed company and the government agreed to expand the project and extended their partnership until 2042.
After an annual shareholders’ meeting in the capital Paramaribo on Friday, Rosebel Gold Mine executives said gross income had risen 7.8 percent to $655.7 million in 2012, compared with the previous year.
Production rose to 402,000 ounces in 2012, they said, from 385,000 ounces the year before.
Sixty percent of the company’s gross income remained in the Suriname economy, they added, in the form of salaries, local spending, donations and infrastructure.
The Suriname government earned $167 million in 2012, up from $156.5 million the previous year, through taxes, dividend payments and 5 percent royalty fees, they said.
“The company makes all efforts to contribute as much as possible to the Suriname economy by doing business with locals,” Rosebel Gold Mines’ Legal and Corporate Affairs Manager Sharmila Jadnanansing told reporters. “If we need something and we can get it in Suriname, we won’t import it.”
The Rosebel project covers about 66 square miles (170 square kilometers) of the country’s Brokopondo district, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Paramaribo.
No details have been made public about the expansion plan that was agreed in June, but Iamgold had previously proposed a seven-year program costing around $185 million.
Suriname, a sparsely populated former Dutch colony on the northeast shoulder of South America, produces gold and bauxite, which dominates the economy, and has a nascent oil industry.
Last month, lawmakers approved a 25-year deal with U.S.-based Newmont Mining Corp and Alcoa Worldwide Alumina to develop another gold project in the country, Merian.
In areas including the Rosebel project, operations have sometimes been disrupted by small-scale illegal miners who risk their lives with unsafe practices and damage the environment.
Suriname’s Natural Resources Minister Jim Hok told the news conference the government will work with the company to improve security, and that it wanted to help the small-scale miners by offering them concessions under strict conditions.
“But it seems like they prefer working illegal and operating under the radar,” Hok said.