GOLD BOOK REVIEW
By Will DeGrouchy and William L Magee
Published in 1930
The Marowyne Gold Mining Company Story
Getting the news that some Chinese prospectors had found gold in Dutch Guiana, an industrialist named Faulkner created the Marowyne Gold Mining Company. This enterprise was formed for sure in the very late 1,800s. The company was named after the Marowyne river. This large river is presently known as the Maroni River. Dutch Guiana is now Surinam. The river is the international boundary between Surinam and French Guiana.
Marowyne Mining Company was a very nicely put-together enterprise specially set up for gold mining operations. They had the latest and greatest technology of the time, all the needed equipment, legal backing, government connections, and are super well-financed. The management was top-notch as well. They apparently had all that is needed to succeed.
The problem is that on paper many things look really good. And the gold was there for sure. It is just that the jungle proved to be really hard to deal with. However, given the available resources, they actually installed all that was needed to start successfully extracting gold. But the human cost was high. Countless laborers, imported from the Caribbean islands, died of malaria and other diseases. The management and technical team also had huge attrition, but proportionately less. Even the main character of the story, the narrator, Pedrick (Ped) nearly died several times of fever and other things. Basically, in terms of human cost, the enterprise was very dangerous. But life was cheap. Getting laborers was not a problem.
By the time they got ready to start the actual gold mining, it was the beginning rainy season. They did get to complete their first extraction of pay-dirt. At that moment they were perfecting their flumes and the mercury method for separating gold from the dirt.
However, the rains proved to be of a proportion much higher than the miners ever expected. Everything got flooded. The whole works, including their just-built railroad, the excavator machines, filtering flumes, etc., all were under river water. Most of the work was lost. Much of the equipment was damaged. Plus, even more, people died. May others did not want to continue.
But Pedrick persisted despite his tropical illnesses and all his near deaths experiences. At some point, someone offered to buy off the Merowyne Company for extracting the lumber and clay resources in the gold mining company concession. Pedrick calculated that there was more money on this than in the actual gold extraction. Plus it was easier to exploit. Actually, they had to remove that anyway. But Mr. Faulkner did not want to sell off or deviate from the focus of only gold mining. That could have saved the complete operation, made it profitable right away, and they would still have been able to in addition get the gold.
Pedrick got so sick he had to move back to the US. He met the individual who went to replace him. That gentleman was dead with a few weeks of arrival to the gold mining camp. Tropical diseases were rampant.
What finally convinced Pedrick to quit was when the excavator, while working, opened an old mine shaft. Inside where the remains of the Chinese gold prospectors mentioned above. They had died entrapped inside the mine shaft, with their gold, most likely when the entrance collapsed. They had the gold but died for nothing.
Faulkner called Pedrick for a meeting. Pedrick went with the intention of quitting and saying that he was done with the Marowyne gold mining operation. Faulkner actually surprised the Pedrick. He had already decided to quit. He did it in the most gentlemanly manner, acknowledging that sometimes you lose. He paid everybody as agreed initially and the company folded. I guess the dead were just out of luck. But those were standards of the time.
All the gold the Marowine Gold Mining Company was able to extract from the mine was added to only two one-pint containers of gold dust and nuggets. The whole thing was for sure not worth the effort.
Conclusions About Gold Mining
Gold mining is not easy. Not only that but there is something in the nature of gold that makes even the most rational and successful individuals take huge risks. Sometimes gold miners, even when they are informed about pitfalls, don’t listen. This happens even when simple corrections can be inexpensively and quickly made. It seems that often, gold miners keep persevering in the wrong direction. It is amazing that sometimes they are even in possession of valuable resources that they overlook. These are not just by-products, but resources easier to exploit and more lucrative than the gold they want to extract. Gold bewitches some people.
Words of Wisdom About Gold from “Jungle Gold”
“Gold is to all things material, what God is to all things mental. Gold is a goal never to be reached for itself alone, but for the enriching things which God strews along the path to it. God is a goal that never can be reached, but in striving to be godlike one collects spiritual riches.
Gold in itself helps no man. Gold has a value only proportion to that which is collected because gold exists. Take away the wealth of a country and gold is a base metal. In our Marowyne Jungle, there was more gold in the things that weren’t gold than there was in gold itself”