Marudi confrontation…‘Illegal’ miners did not declare gold, to face charges – GGMC
Miners who were operating at Marudi Mountains, Region Nine, are to face charges for illegally being there and for not declaring their gold.
According to the government regulators, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), it is preparing to file charges against “several raiders” that were engaged in illegal mining activities in the Marudi Mountain.
The Marudi Mountains incident has been an explosive one after a video surfaced of a police rank using a stick to badly beat a miner who was protecting a female.
An investigation has been launched by the police and GGMC.
“The GGMC with support from the Guyana Police Service (GPS) is currently removing the more than 14 illegal dredges and other mining equipment from the area. The operators of these dredges were engaged in the removal of Guyana’s minerals and evasion of payment of royalties and taxes on the minerals extracted,” a statement from that body said yesterday.
“To date, not a single gram of gold has been declared by any of the operators and there are no records of production which is a breach of the Mining Regulations. The Commission is of the view that all the minerals removed were illegally sold.”
GGMC said that the recently forced removal of the illegal miners is the final step after several other requests for the raiders to voluntarily remove failed.
The Commission said that in December 2012, it received a formal complaint from the legal licence holders about excessive illegal mining operations on their land and ordered action to be taken, in keeping with its mandate.
“The GGMC responded and the raiders were given official notice, as early as February 14, 2013, and instructed to stop their illegal operation and remove from the land which has been licenced to Romanex Guyana Exploration Ltd under a mining licence (ML 1/2009).”
GGMC said that its Commissioner, Rickford Vieira, along with a Manager of Mines and other officers, further met with the illegal miners on February 22, ordering them to remove from the area.
“After these steps failed, the GGMC officials with support from the Guyana Police Service proceeded to the area to remove the illegal occupants. The GGMC wishes to state, categorically, that none of the raiders had permission to mine or paid any royalty to be on the land as it was already allocated to as a mining concession.”
Additionally, GGMC said it made no promise to have the miners allocated any portion of the lands legally held by Romanex Guyana.
“Mr. Vieira noted that this is not the first such exercise being undertaken by the GGMC. However, it is the first time that it has led to a confrontation. The GGMC is normally accompanied by the Police who are the legal authority to arrest and clear illegal occupants.”
The Commission also stressed that it is constantly engaged in active monitoring and, where necessary, removal of illegal occupants.
“Mr. Vieira noted that the unfortunate confrontation that took place during this recent activity was a first and regrettable. Despite this disappointing incident, the Commission will continue to fulfil its mandate to fairly regulate and manage the natural resource wealth of Guyana, regardless of the personalities involved.”
The alleged beating incident featured on a widely circulated video was said to have occurred two weekends ago.
Vieira, according to the release yesterday, explained that the Marudi incident highlights the dangers that the officers of the GGMC face in executing their duties. He pleaded for greater cooperation.
“In response to claims about the land being neglected, the GGMC said that this is fictitious, as there is an active review of the Romanex operations, as is the norm. The company is in keeping with the timeline established for development and exploitation which is the pertinent aspect of their licence. The exploration programme to establish the mineral reserve of the property prior to issuing the licence was completed.”
The Commissioner emphasised that the lack of areas to mine or the fact that another individual is already mining in a particular area does not give anyone the right to raid or remove the resources which are legally being paid for.
Vieira said that there is a process which has to be followed and he challenged the raiders to follow the legal system and put themselves in order.
The GGMC, he noted, remains willing to help all those who wish to follow the legal avenues into mining.