Apr 02, 2010 News
…notification deadline pushed back one month
Miners have been given a one-month breather to start giving their mandatory six months notification before commencing operations.
This was disclosed yesterday as gold and diamond miners met with Chairman of a special mining committee, Minister Robeson Benn, at the Hotel Tower.
Instead of the April 1 deadline, miners have until May 1.
It was the first bi-monthly meeting of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) since the early February meeting with President Bharrat Jagdeo. More than 50 miners attended the session.
Many miners were absent from the crucial meeting since they are in the camps in the interior attempting to control the operations there that continue to suffer from the water situation hard hit by El Nino.
According to Executive Director of the GGDMA, Edward Shields, there are still questions over the changes in mining policies and the recommendations made by the Special Land Use Committee, headed by Minister Benn.
The recommendations have been forwarded to President Bharrat Jagdeo and other issues pertaining to concerns of miners are now engaging the attention of the committee which now included representatives from several interior mining locations.
According to Shields, GGDMA is doing its part to protect the interests of its members. The association has acquired the services of an environmental officer and is in the process of setting up its own lab.
Very shortly, miners can visit the North Road office of GGDMA and use the services of a Justice of Peace/Commissioner of Oaths and a website is being worked on for miners.
Shields stressed that the mining industry is continuing to prove its worth by being the number one contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There is still little understanding of the interior with many people still thinking that one has to visit Bartica wearing long boots, the Director said.
Meanwhile, Minister Benn again stressed yesterday that there is no way that mining will stop in Guyana.
Referring to the economy, the official said that it has stabilized with the need for more declaration.
There is no need for the incidences where miners have been reportedly smuggling their gold overseas, especially through to Suriname where instances of people being shot and authorities seizing the items have been revealed.
Last year, miners, for the first time since Omai Gold Mines departed, declared the highest production-passing the 300,000 ounces mark.
However, one miner yesterday estimated that almost one million ounces were produced but a major part not declared to the Guyana Gold Board.
Yesterday, the minister recalled instances in a previous administration where assets were seized after it was discovered that miners were not declaring.
Signalling Government’s seriousness of the mining industry, Benn was convinced that there can be no development of Guyana without the country’s resources being exploited.
Regarding the LCDS, the official argued that it is a unique opportunity for the country to embark on sustainable development.
With neighboring Brazil losing tremendous tracts of forest to soya planting and ranches, if Guyana loses out, other countries like Cameroon and Ghana with forest cover will capitalize on potential resources that can be available to Guyana.
But miners have to be responsible, reducing mercury use and improving recovery rate, he said.
However, a few issues will need to be addressed. These include the holding of reserves by miners and even using those reserves to attract investments from banks and overseas investors.
He warned that the drop of the US dollar will have a negative impact on the mining industry since the current prices have been buoyed by the weak dollar and more interest in gold.
Benn admitted that the mining industry still is not being properly supported by the local banks.
He also warned miners in possession of medium scale prospecting licenses to convert these to mining licenses.
The Minister also warned that miners who continuously renew their prospecting year after year could face non-renewal as this practice will have to end some time.
There have been instances of many miners acquiring lands using prospecting licences and then either renting them or “landlording” them to porkknockers or to other small miners.
There were also complaints from miners yesterday over the role of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission which they said is not doing enough in the interior.
Miners had protested in January after learning in December of new measures by government to streamline the industry.
A special committee led by Benn and which included miners had reviewed and made recommendation.
Jagdeo met with miners in February and assured that industry will not be closing.
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