The Amerindian People’s Association (APA) yesterday refuted claims that the 20 miners detained by Joint Services ranks, were working in the restricted Kaieteur National Park area.
The miners, including two women, were released from custody after being detained at CID Headquarters, Eve Leary. One of the women, who was accompanied by her two-year-old son, was reportedly released on Monday. However, they have all been given summonses by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), to appear in court on July 18.
The miners, who were mainly Amerindians from the Patamona tribe, turned up at the APA’s Charlotte Street office yesterday. About 12 were subsequently provided with accommodation at the Amerindian Hostel in Princes Street, while others are reportedly staying at relatives.
An APA release identified the miners as Calixtus Francis, 47; Kenvil Cyril, 18; Donald Andrew, 48; Aladin Sebastian, 29; Garlon Andrew, 32; Clifford Andrew, 30; Leroy Fraser, 29; Collin Francisco, 27; Phillip Andrew, 18; Rudolph Bobb-Semple, 37; Franklin George, 38; Carlton Lewis, 40; Jason Baptiste, 30; Cecil Baptiste, 56; Bryan Mason, 31; Tomson Edwards, 17; Sabrina Dossantos, 26; Mark Andrew, 26; Carrol Williams, 22, and Clive Edwards, 20.
“The accused were summoned by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and are scheduled to make their court appearances on July 18, 2017 at the Mahdia Magistrates Court,” the APA release added.
But Amerindian People’s Association member Laura George said that the miners were working on two claims, which were licensed by the GGMC.
The claim owners were identified as George De Abreu and Charles Blair. Kaieteur News has seen what appeared to be claim licences, which were stamped by GGMC, and made out to George De Abreu. One of the licences appeared to have been issued on May 15, 2017.
“The claims are valid (and) paid for by the claim holders,” Mrs. George said.
“They (the owners) say those are their claims, the Ministry (of Natural Resources) says they have taken away their excavators, dredges and water pumps, (but ) where did they confiscate them from?”
“They (the miners) were out of the Kaieteur National Park, on claims authorized by GGMC. Somebody is not doing it right at the GGMC. They have to make themselves right, instead of making others pay for their inefficiencies,” the APA spokesperson added.
Kaieteur News understands that the miners alleged that they were working in an area out of the restricted Kaieteur National Park area, and were heading back to Chenapau, located at the left bank of the Potaro River, when the Joint Services ranks arrested them.
However, Kaieteur News understands that three of the miners may have been prospecting in the restricted Kaieteur National Park.
Following several reports of illegal mining activity at the Kaieteur National Park, President David Granger last week ordered a special operation which led to the arrest of several persons.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman had said that a number of reports were brought to the attention of several agencies regarding the illegal activity.
Trotman said that the President was also briefed on the matter about the proliferation of mining in the area. He said that a decision was taken to urgently address the issue and an operation was executed over the weekend.
Illegal mining has been a problem for the management of the Kaieteur National Park for a number of years. The Park is located within one of the largest and most bio-diverse rainforests in the world.
Just last year, Special Constable Akeem Hyles had drowned during a government operation to stop illegal mining in the area. In that operation the Ministry of Natural Resources had partnered with the Joint Services to stop illegal mining in and around the Park.
In August of last year, a Brazilian national, Ceso Alves De Alcantara was fined $7M for mining in the area. He was caught following a raid by the Ministry and the GGMC. During the raid, officials seized a dredge, excavator engine and other equipment.
During the 1970s, the Park was downsized to facilitate mining, but was expanded in the 1990s to protect the watershed and the integrity of the area. The Park covers an area of 242 square miles or 62,700 hectares.
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