Head of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Newell Dennison is refusing to talk to Kaieteur News on any matter. He made this clear yesterday during a brief telephone conversation.
The public official did not offer a reason as to why he does not want to speak to this newspaper.
When contacted, Dennison was greeted professionally, and was referred to an article published in yesterday’s edition of the Kaieteur News. The article carried the headline, “GGMC shuns statutory responsibility for best interest of local miners.”
Dennison told the reporter, “I do not know what you are speaking about.”
When the reporter attempted to offer Dennison a synopsis of the referenced article, he asserted, “Do not explain it to me, because I ain’t got any comment on whatever it is.”
This newspaper wanted to speak to Dennison on several issues, these include the matters highlighted in the published article as well as on the role he played in negotiation of the Petroleum Sharing Agreement (PSA) that the Government of Guyana signed with ExxonMobil.
WAS SMARTT OUTSMARTED?
Was Smartt outsmarted? That is what the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) was asked to look into since 2016. Almost two years later, the Commission is still to give Pauline Smartt a positive response.
Australian company, Troy Resources, acquired rights to work claims listed in the name of Leslie Smartt, Pauline’s husband. Mr. Smartt accepted payment for the claims.
However, Mr. Smartt died in 2013, leaving Mrs. Smartt as the legal heir.
In 2016, GGMC invited Mrs. Smartt to officially transfer the claims, a process that has to be approved by the Commission. Smartt was advised to have the Commission review the agreement to ensure that it was “fair and just” in accordance with the Mining Act of Guyana.
The provision of the Mining Act introduced to Mrs. Smartt states, “Where any area which is subject to a prospecting permit, claim licence, mining permit, or special mining permit, in respect of gold is contiguous to, or is surrounded by, any parcel which is subject to a licence with respect to gold, the licensee may with the permission of the Commission, buy the rights of the person holding the prospecting permit, claim licence, mining permit or special mining permit on such terms as may be agreed to between the purchaser and the seller.
“The Commission shall not give the approval referred to in subsection (1) unless it is satisfied that the terms of purchase agreed to by the licensee and the holder of the prospecting permit, claim license, mining permit or special mining permit are fair and just so far as the latter is concerned.
When Mrs. Smartt became aware of that provision, she sent a letter to GGMC in the first quarter of 2016 expressing a desire for the Commission to review the agreement before the transfer occurred.
The Commission facilitated a meeting in the third quarter with Mrs. Smartt, her consultant, and a representative of Troy Resources. At that meeting, Troy Resources’ representative asked whether the meeting was called to facilitate a request from Mrs. Smartt to have the contract reviewed.
It was made clear that all Smartt wanted, at the time, was for GGMC to carry out its statutory duty.
The meeting was adjourned without GGMC giving any commitment about when it will review the agreement.
Kaieteur News understands that when subsequent queries were made, GGMC Commissioner, Newell Dennison, said that he was seeking legal advice.
GMMC has so far not contacted Mrs. Smartt in relation to the way forward.
Meanwhile, Troy Resources continues to work the claims that have proven to be the largest and most productive.
The total reserves in the property that Troy Resources acquired from the Smartts include 253,728 ounces of gold that the company will mine underground and 287,121 ounces of gold that the company will mine by open pit.
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