An independent mining association is set to hold elections, Thursday, in Bartica with key members of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) expected to vie for leadership positions.
Former President of the GGDMA, Fred McWilfred, is one of the main organisers for the Bartica Mining and Community Development Association.
McWilfred yesterday confirmed that the association is an independent non-governmental organisation that is gearing to offer protection to gold and diamond miners across the country.
McWilfred resigned early in December from GGDMA claiming that he was continuously sidelined, an accusation denied by the association which said that he wanted to do things his own way.
He disclosed that several miners from Bartica, including a number of them that are significant players in the industry, are interested in being part of the association with some of them even indicating intentions run in key positions.
The meeting is set to take place at Second Avenue, Bartica on Thursday at 17:00hrs where the rules of the association will be ratified and elections held.
Kaieteur News was told that one of the main objectives of the association will be to protect all miners and Bartica, ensuring that the community diversifies its economic base.
It is unclear what kind of impact the new association will have with GGDMA with McWilfred making it clear that the association intends to work with all and sundry to developing the mining industry and Guyana.
In December, GGDMA said that it has accepted the resignation of McWilfred but blasted the reasons given by the official.
GGDMA’s Executive Director, Edward ‘Tony’ Shields, noted that the past six Presidents of the association never had problems with the way it was being handled and it was now curious the reasons McWilfred gave for his action.
The Bartician resigned recently saying that he was continuously sidelined, with his position being a ceremonial one.
His election to the post in June was highly publicised at a time when the gold and diamond industry in Guyana was nervous about new mining regulations being mulled by government.
A main organiser of a one-day shutdown of Bartica, a key mining community, back in January, McWilfred’s popular support from that area was widely seen as heralding in more representation for small and medium scale miners.
In his resignation letter to the GGDMA’s Secretary, Terrence Adams, McWilfred blasted the association which he noted had seemed to be representing only a few selected miners.
“Unfortunately that is not the disposition of the present leadership of the GGDMA which is obviously very comfortable with the façade of ‘Industrywide Representation’ while in fact protecting and promoting the interests of a selected few.”
Commenting on the resignation of McWilfred, Shields disclosed that the association has accepted it. He pointed out that the entity is “an association” and not a political party and that McWilfred was never in the GGDMA’s executive. Rather, he was “catapulted” to the Presidency of the association.
According to him, McWilfred had been expressing his reservations with the operations of the association, which was run daily by the Executive Director, a position held by Shields.
McWilfred has been a member of SLUC, which is headed by Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn.
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