Dec 01, 2015 News
The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners’ Association (GGDMA) has responded to complaints from the Isseneru village of Region Seven, affirming that the miner must not be “bullied” by greedy Village Councils and
denying that the operator was ever issued a cease work order.
In a recent missive, the GGDMA affirmed that no cease work order was ever issued. Rather, the miner volunteered to reduce his operations so that an impartial inspection could be carried out by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC). GGDMA also attested that no fault was found.
The mining association went on to observe that the village of Isseneru has been collecting a 12 percent tribute from the miner, something it has no authorization to do. The association also noted that “the Mazaruni River is not part of any village’s land.”
GGDMA observed that permission to operate in the river is the jurisdiction of the state and GGMC. It referenced the court ruling in October 2015, whereby Jawalla Village, in Region seven, had lost a case against a mining company. Chief Justice, Ian Chang, had ruled that the Mazaruni River was not a part of Jawalla.
“It should be noted that the Miner has donated to the Isseneru Village Council over 32 ounces of gold since he began working downstream from the village earlier this year,” the association protested. “This was after a discussion with the council and a demand for payment of a 12 per cent tribute, despite not having any legal right to collect such tribute.”
GGDMA also revealed that a previous agreement had existed between the village and the miner, where he was granted permission to operate the same river dredge on village lands (in the village buffer zone) in exchange for the tribute.
“This deal was negotiated and put in place by the village council which collected the tribute. The GGMC subsequently stopped this arrangement as it is illegal to mine in the buffer zone,” GGDMA said. “The current/new arrangement for the tribute for the river dredge was an additional agreement based more on previous partnerships rather than in a legal right to demand tribute for lands which are not within the village’s title.”
GGDMA went on to note that it supports all “legal” mining operations and will continue to do so. Miners must not be bullied by greedy Village Councils,” the association said. “There is the misconception that the mining operation was issued a cease-work order by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.”
“This is not true. The miner has been operating in the area legally and uninterrupted for several years. (It) volunteered to reduce his operations so an impartial inspection could be carried out by the GGMC. This was done. No fault was found. The miner was cleared of all accusations of impropriety and he was allowed to resume his operations.”
According to the GGDMA, as recent as Wednesday November 24, 2015, the (dragga or river dredge) was inspected by officials of the GGMC and given the all clear; no violation was found.
The association, while admitting that the village had a right to object to any operation it perceived as endangering its village, claimed that as the dredge was mining downstream, the village’s concerns were unjustified.
“Unless the village is subject to special laws of nature the water will not reverse its flow upstream. The truth can be verified by the GGMC and from the report of the investigative team.”
The dredge has sparked much controversy. While GGDMA has spoken in defence of the miner, Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman has already ordered the operator to cease his operations. However, villagers are up in arms as the order was allegedly ignored.
A report on the incident is expected, following a visit by a Government-sponsored team to the operation two weeks ago.
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