Hundreds jobless as mining camps close operations in Regions 7, 8
With traffic blocked for prolonged periods, to and from Linden for almost four weeks now, roughly 300 gold mining operations in Regions Seven and Eight are closed leaving hundreds jobless, due to the high cost dredge operators incur transporting fuel and food via air, river and the Bartica to Mahdia trail.
According to Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud, Government is hoping that Linden, which is the main access to the interior, would return to normalcy soon, hence, reviving mining in adjacent communities.
He recalled that at the beginning of the Linden protest about 200 operations were closed but as the situation worsens, more operations have “shut shop”.
“The mining sector is under severe pressure. There is loss of employment, capital cost of down-time, missed opportunities for miners as well as suppliers. Operators are pulling out at a time of high gold prices which could limit our hard miners’ abilities to garner returns,” Persaud said.
The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission is currently doing an assessment to ascertain the impact the closures are having on gold production. Persaud asserted that before the Linden protest/ blockades gold declaration to the Guyana Gold Board was above target for the year.
Blockades to Linden roadways have shown the necessity to have proper alternative access to mining districts. According to Persaud, his Ministry has been engaging the Public Works Ministry for the rehabilitation of certain roadways from Bartica to Mahdia.
According to one Mahdia businessman, many miners are leaving the “bush bottom” but life on Mahdia Landing remains busy.
He said that transporting perishables to Mahdia is being done via air at high cost. To help reduce food costs many businessmen are hiring trucks to transport groceries from Bartica to Mahdia.
Fuel price in Mahdia is almost back to normal with consumers paying between $53,000 and $60,000 per drum of diesel. Electricity has been restored to Mahdia with the Power Company accessing fuel for $52,000 per drum of diesel through an arrangement with a businessman from the community.