Weeks after an uneasy deal brokered to regulate mining in the Marudi Mountain, Region Nine area, miners are gearing up for protest action.
On Monday, representatives of the almost 500 miners said that nothing is happening in the area in terms of commercial activities.
“We have Christmas coming and miners are not being allowed to work. We are not likely to work before Christmas because we are being prevented,” says Marlon Johnson, President of the Marudi Miners Association.
Concessions have been granted to Romanex Guyana Exploration Limited to work the area.
However, there have been clashes between the company and workers who come from Amerindian villages in Region Nine, including Aishalton.
Marudi is about 70-80 miles from Lethem.
According to Johnson, more than a year ago, a mediation team was established by the Ministry of Natural Resources. It was headed by former army chief, Major General (ret’d) Joe Singh.
“We are asking the government to get involved, as these miners have families and there will be no Christmas for them.”
The union officials said as part of the mediation agreement, miners were asked to move shops and other facilities to a new location around the Marudi Mountain area.
“We believe now that this was a trick. Romanex is supposed to do an Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). In the meantime, miners are not being told when they could start working. We have been waiting months.”
In late October, the Ministry of Natural Resources said that it is continuing to work with the parties to the Marudi Mediation Agreement to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes for Romanex, itinerant miners working on Marudi Mountain and South Rupununi Indigenous communities.
As part of an agreed menu of measures, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) facilitated the movement of miners to a new area that will accommodate structures and shops, so as to facilitate the smooth conduct of an ongoing Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in the area, which Romanex is required by law to complete before full-fledged operations can commence.
To date, the overwhelming majority of miners have moved to the new “landing” while the remaining few were given notice to follow likewise or face enforcement action.
The Ministry and the GGMC said that they have every reason to believe that there will be total compliance. The area identified had been mutually agreed upon and all commitments made by government to facilitate the move have been kept.
In April 2016, the Government of Guyana through Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, intervened in a standoff between small miners from the Marudi Mountain area, representatives of indigenous communities and Romanex and facilitated a historic mediation process. This resulted in all parties signing the ‘Mediation of the Marudi Mountain Dispute Agreement’ that would guide future engagements to finalize a solution.
The miners had been clashing with the mining company over the area, sparking protests.
Amerindians had complained that the licence to mine issued by the GGMC to Romanex for operations, would have affected their way of life.
It was issued under the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic government.
The Amerindians in the area had said that they depend on the headwaters of the mountain and the surrounding area for their daily food sustenance, and in any case, they were not properly consulted when the licence was issued.
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