Local miners lament ‘Chinese take-over’ at Imbaimadai
Miners who operate at Imbaimadai have voiced their concern that the Chinese are taking over the mining industry which is the profitable operation at Imbaimadai and most interior locations. The miners said that the Chinese are seemingly having more privileges than them who are born and bred Guyanese.
This issue was raised at a village meeting facilitated by the Guyana Women Miners Organization (GWMO) on Sunday.
Miners spoke of victimization as the Chinese were granted permission to operate on the same lands that were denied to the locals. This, they believe, is another attempt to stifle small and medium scale miners.
They said that some time ago, residents of Imbaimadai had an operation at the said location. However, they were reportedly told by a mining officer that the area could not have been located on the map; therefore they could have no longer continued mining on those lands. They were ordered to immediately remove.
“Then, all of a sudden, dem locate it on de map and dem say how it is a PL (prospecting license); now we hear dem say how dem turn it into blocks.
“Next thing, de Chinese come and get de whole thing. We can’t understand dem thing this; we can’t go to China and take over but look…”
The miners said that before the Chinese, the industry was flooded by Brazilians and Spanish-speaking nationals but on a smaller level. “Now the government find new friends and Robert (Persaud) doing he own thing”.
The miners said that what is of equal concern is the fact that even when nationals other than the Chinese go into the mining community, the residents there still benefit even if it is in a minute way.
“The difference between the Brazilians and Chinese is that the Brazilians would employ one, one Guyanese, so we would still catch a li’l hand even though it is not we dredge; but not these Chinese. Dem does do everything dem self.”
Further, the residents said that the Chinese bring in all their supplies and hardly support any of the village shops.
“…What we really concern about is how we couldn’t mine pun dem same lands that de Chinese get,” said one of the miners.
It was raised that the medium and small scale miners are being stifled as they are not being given lands to mine. “Apparently that is one of the reasons the Chinese getting so many advantages because they doing it big.”
The miners said that it sometimes takes years for allocation of blocks to be approved by the Guyana Geology and Mines Corporation (GGMC).
One miner said that he paid for a block and when given, he realized that mining could not have been executed there.
This newspaper understands that GGMC has a policy that once plots that can’t be of use are distributed, one can apply for relocation. The man said that quite some time ago he submitted for relocation yet, on to now GGMC has him “on hold.”
Other miners said that they lost millions because of the unavailability of areas to work. “Sometimes when you bring your dredge to a point and start operation, de mines officer come and stop you. You just got to pack your traps and go. We need our own lands and we willing to pay. We not asking for it free.”
The miners added that there were instances where they set up operations, and found gold and were told that the block belonged to someone else.
The mining community has asked for the GWMO to make representations on their behalf to the Minister of Natural Resources since complaints to the mining officers and GGMC are proving to be of no avail.