By Leonard Gildarie
Despite prices continuing a downward slide on the world market, and amidst reports of continued smuggling, the new administration after a rocky start in office will have some reasons to smile.
According to declarations this week, gold has surpassed last year’s figures by close to 40,000 ounces, and there are still a few days left of the year.
As of yesterday, according to mining officials, declarations stood at almost 429,000 ounces. Government had re-adjusted the annual target to 390,000 ounces.
Overseas trade from gold would have also seen over US$485M for miners – about US$15M more than last year.
As of yesterday, world prices were hovering around US$1,070 per ounce, below US$1,200 at the beginning of the year and the almost US$1,900 four years ago, when gold became the biggest foreign currency earner for the country.
Gold fell behind rice and sugar last year as scores of miners, faced with high fuel cost and low world prices for the metal, pulled out.
The declarations would have come at a time when the David Granger government has declared war on gold smuggling which took centre stage this year when details emerge of a well organized scheme by miners, dealers and traders alike.
The US is reportedly assisting Guyana with clamping down on the smuggling to that country with information being shared with authorities here.
However, a significant quantity of the gold is still reportedly being smuggled to Suriname and Brazil, local officials have said.
Local regulators in Guyana believed that more than 300,000 ounces is not being declared. This is significant with Government losing a much-needed seven percent in taxes and royalties it collects on every ounce of gold.
Contacted yesterday, Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, who is charged with responsibilities for mining, was upbeat with the performance of gold.
“Yes, we did well this year and this is a very impressive feat given that world market prices for gold are down and that for many months of the year, bad weather interfered with mining. The credit is due to miners – small, medium and industrial scale including Aurora Gold Mines Inc and Troy.”
The minister would be referring to Canada-owned “Guyana Goldfields Inc.” and “Troy Resources”, an Australian company, which both started their large-scale operations this year.
While Troy is now ramping up operations, the Aurora mines of the Guyana Goldfields have managed to declare more than 30,000 ounces, according to figures seen by Kaieteur News.
“These declarations show that gold remains a viable and strong contributor to the well-being of the Guyana economy and Government will continue with its efforts in 2016 to improve the health and safety of miners, and to facilitate greater opportunities in all strata of the trade,” Trotman said.
The Minister insisted that Government is also very keen to ensure that exporters take the gold to all parts of the globe.
“But understandably, we want to see more declarations which would bring in more revenue. To this end we will continue to tighten the controls to minimize smuggling. I will be issuing a fuller statement later in the week. Of course, we know that more gold was produced but a high percentage was not declared. The gold mining industry remains strong and we can look forward to more investments in 2016.”
Both the Guyana Goldfields and Troy Resources reportedly worked through Christmas to increase their production before December 31.
“This is good news following on declarations for sugar. Apart from health and safety concerns, we will also be working to bring order to the manner in which mining is regulated to ensure a level playing field for everyone and less red tape and frustration for especially small miners.”
Last week, Government announced that sugar has surpassed its original annual target also, for the first time in more than a decade.
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