Dominican Republic: Sandy beaches, turquoise water and $58 billion waiting to be extracted

Dominican Republic is soon to become more than just a sunny destination. According to data published by the country’s geology society (Sodogeo), the Caribbean nation is sitting on nearly $58 billion of unexplored reserves of minerals and metals.

Based on the entity’s calculations, the underground hidden treasure trove comprises about 27 million ounces of gold, 168 million ounces of silver, 652 million pounds of copper, 6 billion pounds of zinc and 25 million pounds of nickel.

This wealth is currently shared by only eight companies, Xstrata (LON:XTA), Barrick Gold (NYSE & TSX: ABX) and Goldcorp (NYSE: GG &  TSX:G) being the major players. The firms have a combined total of 14 exploration and exploitation projects, spread throughout various parts of the country.

But, members of the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum fear the resources will remain unexploited for years due to the lack of transparency in the way Dominican governments have traditionally managed mining concessions and permits.

Interviewed by Outlet Minero, the vice president of the entity, Manuel Tapia, said the main problem lies in the Constitution. “Since 1943, all mineral deposits found in the Dominican Republic belong to the state, which is the only body entitled to sell them, but no one sees where that money ends up,” he added.

The solution, the agency believes, is to make information on the resources easily available and that is why they are trying to make the government subscribe to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

"We advocate for EITI, because we want to know what governments do with the money coming from mining companies; if we are sacrificing our resources, we must know what benefits we get in return,” added Chamber of Mines and Petroleum director Juan Gil Argeles.

No time to waste

In the meantime, miners keep advancing their projects in the country.

Later this year, Barrick Gold and Goldcorp workers are poised to start mining in one of the world's largest gold deposits: Pueblo Viejo, with 23 million ounces of bullion reserves worth about $40 billion.

Located only 100 km from the capital Santo Domingo, Pueblo Viejo is the largest undeveloped gold mine in the world.