Mining tensions ease as President says no ban on mercury
- GGMC to resume accepting river claims applications
Executives of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), accompanied by some leading miners, met yesterday with President Donald Ramotar where it was agreed that there will be no ban on the use of mercury.
Government also agreed yesterday to lift a month-long suspension on the processing of new river mining claims applications.
According to a joint statement from the miners association and the Ministry of Natural Resources yesterday, the President also agreed that there will also be more government meetings with the miners.
The miners‘ delegation was led by GGDMA’s President, Patrick Harding.
Miners have been recording an excellent performance in recent years as gold prices remain high on the world market.
However, the relationship with the mining regulator, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) have been strained in recent months over a number of critical issues including an impending ban on mercury, which is used in the gold recovery process, and a number of restrictions.
Present at the meeting also were Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud and Head of the Presidential Secretarial, Dr. Roger Luncheon.
“GGDMA representatives expressed to President Ramotar a number of issues that they feel are threatening the existence of the gold and diamond mining industry and sought a way forward that will allow the industry to continue to be productive.”
It was agreed that “there will not be a ban on the use of mercury. Avenues will be explored for viable alternatives.”
There will also be no ban on river mining and no refusal to accepting monies from miners GGMC for river claims, the joint statement said.
GGMC had insisted that there was no ban on river mining but just a one month suspension to review the process in light of complaints of pollution by affected Amerindians.
GGMC will be accepting river claim applications from Monday.
“The issues of extensions to the Titled Amerindian Lands into areas held by miners will be further discussed,” it was also agreed to.
The statement said that the mining association will also be meeting monthly with Minister Persaud to discuss and resolve issues facing the industry.
The association also had issues with the GGMC Chairman
“The GGDMA also highlighted what it feels is a conflict of interest situation with Major General (rtd) Joe Singh who was described as an environmentalist and who it believes has taken some “anti-mining” positions.”
Singh was retained as the GGMC Chairman late last year.
“Further, President Ramotar also encouraged the mining community to work closely with the regulatory body and other stakeholders to ensure sustainable mining in Guyana.”