Guyana’s mining sector holds tremendous promise with the latest declaration figure of gold being just over 28,000 ounces for the month of January. This represents about eight percent above the declaration for the same period last year.
Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud, made this disclosure during a press conference on Tuesday at the Ministry’s boardroom. He was at the time responding to a query of the Ministry’s plans for the sector this year.
According to Persaud, the Ministry’s goal for 2014 is to have the sector more aware of its environmental responsibilities as much as it is being very strong economically.
He related that at the beginning of this year there were concerns with the fluctuating gold prices. However, the Ministry has seen some level of recovery in terms of the prices. It is hoped that the conditions would allow the mining sector, inclusive of diamond and bauxite, to be more profitable.
In April 2013, the mining sector was faced with the drop in gold prices on the world market.
Prices had fallen to US$1,477 per ounce of raw gold on April 13. It had reached a high of over US$1,900 as nervous investors in face of the global financial downturn, banked on the metal.
And by April 25, it was reported in the media that the Guyana Gold Board had reportedly faced losses amounting to millions of dollars as a result of being caught with more than 60,000 ounces of gold which it had bought when prices were high.
According to the Minister, diamond has been doing well, while bauxite has been showing signs of improvement, notwithstanding the international market situation. He said that planned investments by the two companies operating in Guyana, BOSAI and RUSAL, are on stream.
With regards to manganese mining, Persaud said the Ministry is slated to have discussions with Trinidad and Tobago in looking to have an arrangement. Reunion Gold has explored to have cheap and widespread energy in its value added process.
Recently, Reunion Gold, which is operating the Matthew’s Ridge, Region One, manganese mine site, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with National Energy Corporation, setting out the terms under which the parties will collaborate to evaluate the potential development by Reunion of a silico-manganese plant in Trinidad and Tobago.
Persaud indicated that Guyana could have benefited from this investment had cheaper energy been available locally. He pointed out that the opportunity was lost with the absence of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Plant and other projects.
“That is why investors have to ship jobs out and ship their investment opportunities out, and the Manganese operation is just one. But the overall goal is to ensure it remains a viable opportunity, because the sector is a major contributor to the economic growth and development,” he said.
The Ministry will also be more aggressive with social and environmental issues, and Persaud said that very soon a few initiatives will be offered in this regard.
“The first order of business is to look at all the issues in a more intense way of compliance and enforcement, showing that the environmental and social issues are adequately addressed,” he said.
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