The government yesterday deemed “regrettable” the concerns of gold and diamond miners that proposed new regulations could regulate them out of business. “The Government would not support policies to regulate mining out of existence,” Dr Roger Luncheon, the government’s chief spokesman stated.
Luncheon said the response of the mining community points to their seeming unwillingness to address the “realities,” namely, the harm done to the environment by unregulated mining.
Miners have been allowed to continue cutting down trees in the areas where they mine. The proposed regulations aim to stop this, by having the miners give six months notice of the area they intend to mine and to stipulate the clear felling of trees which would accompany their intended activity.
This notice, when given to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) would then go to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) which would then make its recommendation.
However, at a meeting Friday, gold and diamond miners said the new regulations, if approved, will regulate them out of business.
However, Luncheon said yesterday, “The mining sector is too big to fail.” In fact, last year, Guyana saw one of the best years in gold mining.
Small and medium size miners exceeded projections, declaring 305,178 troy ounces. This represented a 17.2 percent increase over 2008 figure. The projection was 257,503 ounces.
The Guyana Gold Board said that gold export receipts for last year were US$281.68 million. Miners say the new regulations could reverse the good fortunes of the industry, and actually lead to its collapse. Luncheon argued that the same energy being exerted by miners to paint the worst case scenario could be put into meaningfully addressing the issue.
President Bharrat Jagdeo has established a group chaired by Minister Robeson Benn, formerly a Commissioner of the GGMC and the GFC, as well as members and officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, to study how the proposal may be put into effect. That committee is expected to present its report at the end of this month.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds has argued that mines cannot be located simply wherever someone would prefer them to be.
“Mines are developed where economic bodies of minerals happen to be found!” he declared.
He said mining is usually preceded by some degree of prospecting and that the social and environmental impacts of formal prospecting are minimal, compared with that of actual mining.
Whilst, generally, the whole country is open to prospecting, quantities of economic resources may be found, on average, only over about five of the land area, Hinds stated.
He said that at times, these may be along certain geological features where 50%, or more, of the area may be economically mineable. One acknowledged challenge to small- and medium-scale mining in Guyana is that, hitherto, prospecting and mining were largely merged.
“Now, however, they must be separated sufficiently,” the Prime Minister stated. Hinds said he believed that small- and medium-scale gold and diamond mining can survive and prosper in Guyana, “once the natural anxieties about changes are overcome and minds are opened to seeking, finding, and trying, new ways.”
Dr Luncheon placed the new regulations in the context of a forest-saving Memorandum of Understanding the government has signed with Norway that calls for more sustainable mining activities. Under the MOU, Norway has committed to giving Guyana US$250 million over the next five years.
Guyana is benefiting from the funds from Norway, given its development of a Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
However, Luncheon said long before the promulgation of the LCDS, concerns were being raised about the impact of mining on the environment.
“The interest is to have a balanced, sustainable, exploitation of our natural resources,” Luncheon stated.
Dr Luncheon said the negative reaction of miners to the new regulations is counter-productive as it “discourages the development of the necessary new mindset that would bring into existence sustainable mining activities in Guyana.”
Oct 13, 2019Barbados Tridents won their second Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title as Guyana Amazon Warriors’ perfect season unraveled at the worst possible moment. The Warriors had won all 11 matches...
Cyril Belgrave, one of the finest politicians the PPP produced, died this week. His death coincided with information I stumbled... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]