Following on the heels of the mining auction held earlier this month when 950 mining lots fell under the auctioneer’s hammer, a lottery was held in Bartica, Region Seven yesterday.
As a result, 2,000 blocks of medium-scale parcels of land are being offered by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), 1,000 through auction and 1,000 through lottery. The lottery for mining properties organised by the GGMC entailed lands from all six mining districts of Guyana, viz, Berbice, Potaro, Mazaruni, Cuyuni, North West, and the Rupununi.
Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud addressing the miners gathered for the lottery, stated that the exercise is being carried out for a number of reasons. He noted that when the 950 blocks were taken up during the last auction, it was recognised that the small miners needed to be assisted with various instruments of support.
One of the tasks undertaken is to have regular lotteries, and this was the mandate given to the GGMC. He pointed to the lottery last April, and noted that another will take place on the eve of Mining Week later this month.
Minister Persaud pointed to the complaints received from small miners who utilise other people’s property. Complaints ranged from land conditions, to royalties, and tributes which must be paid and miners being unceremoniously removed from the land. The Minister also pointed to lack of access to mining lands, which he observed has given rise to the issue of raiding being used as an excuse for miners being unable to access their lots. This, he pointed out, will not be tolerated.
Another reason for the auction and lottery is to make the process transparent. Minister Persaud observed that over time the GGMC has been examining how to build a more robust system, which is open, transparent and supportive of the mining sector. He pointed out that while progress has been made in this regard, the auction/lottery has done much to ensure that there is more openness and transparency in how the mining lots are allocated.
Also, it is an opportunity for more persons to participate in the sector and a deliberate attempt to ensure that more Guyanese have access to mining.
He pointed to previous concerns about big miners having more than others, and explained that Guyana’s laws provide for this to be otherwise. Legal provisions and safeguards are in place for all Guyanese to participate, the Minister pointed out.
He urged miners to recognise their environmental responsibility and mine in a responsible way to ensure the viability of the eco-system. He called on them to accept their social and collective responsibility during their work. The Minister noted that the Natural Resources Ministry has recognised the need for roads, and will work with the Public Works Ministry to address this. He pointed also to the issue of security in the sector which will be addressed.
Before the lottery began, Clinton Williams, GGMC’s Chairman also echoed the Minister’s point on observing that lands were not enough. He expressed the hope that all those who had turned up for the lottery could benefit and promised that there would be another such event by the end of the year.
Miners were urged to file their applications for the Prospecting Permit Medium Scale (PPMS) for the blocks awarded by the date specified. Failure to do so would result in the award deemed to have lapsed and the block rescinded.
The lands which were up for lottery are cancelled properties, for which persons have stopped paying rent. When payment of rent for the land is stopped, and there is no response to notices sent out to the alottees, the cancellation of the land is approved by the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment. After the land is taken back and published in the Gazette, it then becomes eligible for auction or lottery at the medium scale level.
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