Apr 05, 2015 News
– Used to sack two top GGMC officials
Based on the directive from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, three officials were invited to conduct a detailed review of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC). A report was then made and submitted to the Board of Commissioners.
That document points to a number of suspicious acts under the mining body which would suggest that senior officials were perhaps lax when it came to ensuring that certain rules and regulations were observed.
It also speaks to a number of missing reports, historical data that went missing, dismissed officers, missing officials and unavailable data for review all indicating that top persons within the entity may have something to hide.
This newspaper confirmed, however, that several aspects of the report done by stakeholders hired by the Natural Resources Ministry are inaccurate. That same report with the glaring inconsistencies was then used to recommend that two top GGMC officials be sent on administrative leave pending certain clarifications.
Further, there are glaring contradictions in the report senior management at the Commission explained that the Systems Review Inception report which was conducted by Grantley Walrond, L.J.L Heesterman, and J. Goolsarran, was expected to help identify loopholes which need to be closed.
They stress that the manner in which it was done (in the absence of proper consultations), gives the impression that it is nothing more than a “witch-hunt.” They sought to make clear that they are not opposed to, but rather, welcome any fair and transparent intervention that would improve the functioning of Commission.
The said report outlined that at the time the review of the Commission was being done, there was a strike by GGMC personnel last year into early January in relation to increased wages and salaries. This, it said, affected the timely completion of the assessment.
Additionally, the document said that it was never the intention of the Mining Act to allow non-Guyanese to own medium and small scale properties and had mentioned Bai Shin Lin as such a company. However, a review of the application revealed that more than 50 percent of the shares was owned by Guyanese and as such, the company was considered local and had satisfied the regulatory requirements.
Senior staffers at the Commission also disagreed with the insensitivity of the report in highlighting the disabilities of persons along with their names as well as the personal relationships of some staffers. They found some aspects to be irrelevant and said that it strayed from the primary purpose of the assessment.
The report said, “…The other Guyanese senior geologist in the Geoservices Division is Unata DeFreitas. She started as a geotech (useful in the field and helpful in collating data), did a degree at UG, and also went to Australia to do an MSc. She spent some time as a mother, and some time working with her husband at the Bartica Mines Office, where they admitted to some sort of dishonesty.
“Her (ex?) husband was a Mines Officer (fired?), but is now a miner. These two geologists probably do most of the work for the budgeted “technical assistance to miners”, but although Unata is probably technically stronger, there are concerns about having her involved in sensitive work.”
It continued, “…The person in charge is the one Senior Geological Technician (Paul Welch), who does not engage in field work (he limps significantly).”
GGMC staffers said that the authors of the report owe the named persons an apology for their inaccurate information and tactlessness.
In another instance, the assessment said that there are many accusations relating to the disposal of historical company reports “for high prices.” It said that the final report for the Goldstone/Migrate PGGS can no longer be found in GGMC, having been traced from Kampta Persaud to Serge Nadeau, to Jimmy Reece and then to the Commissioner’s Office in mid 2014.
Kaieteur News confronted GGMC personnel about this and they insisted that the document was very much in place and can be easily located. Kaieteur News visited GGMC and saw that the said report is intact.
The Systems Review also pointed to the lack of trust in Closed Area Committees (CAC). The main role of this body is to deal with matters pertaining to State Lands that were closed to mining or issuance of mineral titles for various reasons.
The functions of the CAC are essentially to augment the general functions of the Commission, which is the agency with the overall legal authority with respect to monitoring and regulating the mining industry.
The CAC provides support and integrity to the process of releasing lands through a fair and organized mechanism. Essentially, instead of an individual making recommendations to the Minister, they are made by a committee composed of individuals, from both within and outside of the GGMC.
But while this is the case, some GGMC officials believe that the report was not thorough enough in this regard as it highlighted nothing of the fact that Muri Brasil Ventures Inc. was granted Permission for Geographical and Geophysical Survey (PGGS) by Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud. That location was said to be closed prime lands in the South.
A huge debate was sparked over this matter when it was released to the media as the PGGS granted the company the right to apply for a number of prospecting licences, if it found that the 2.2 million acres of land it was allowed to survey in the controversial New River Triangle location was indeed rich with minerals.
The report has so far attracted scathing criticisms from leading members of the GGMC management team considering that it was made for public examination without allowing senior officers to peruse and it and correct certain inaccuracies.
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