Environment Minister Joyce Amarello Williams said the government will take measures to protect wildlife diversity while encouraging investment in gold and bauxite exploration and open-pit mining in the small South American nation.
"It is a matter of finding a right and responsible balance between exploiting our natural resources to our benefit and preserving our biodiversity, which is an important part of our wealth," she told The Associated Press.
The group's research was financed by Suriname Aluminum Company LLC and BHP Billiton Maatschappij Suriname, two companies considering mining projects in the area.
"These are our resources and we will decide what will happen," she said.
About 80 percent of Suriname is covered with dense rainforest. Thousands of Brazilians and Surinamese are believed to work in illegal gold mining, creating mercury pollution that has threatened the health of Amerindians and Maroons in Suriname's interior.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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