Jun 10, 2019 News
Government intends, through the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), to improve geospatial mineral resource mapping, estimation and quantification. The purposes of this, according to the Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040, are to allow the sustainable management of land resources, and to grant better prospects to small miners who are awarded mining concessions.
The strategy refers to current mining practices as dated, inefficient, unsafe, and known for generating significant environmental impact relating to loss of forest cover, and chemical and metal contamination of rivers and other water sources. It also notes the conflict that arises between miners and indigenous communities, surrounding mining activities that occur on or near ancestral lands.
Unsafe exploration practices, particularly in small-scale mining, have negative long term impacts on the health of miners, as well.
In a recent report, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) expressed concern about the challenges facing small and medium scale miners who often find it hard to access funds for their budding operations.
It said that small and medium-sized concessionaires assume higher risks and costs, acquiring parcels whose true mineral wealth is unknown.
If Government, however, was able to map and identify the areas where mineral reserves are concentrated, all of these issues could be avoided.
In a report titled, “Toward the Greening of the Gold Mining Sector of Guyana: Transition Issues and Challenges,” the IDB noted that one major issue is the fact that mining concessions are often let or auctioned without prospecting.
The Bank argued that this adds to the economic and cost constraints of following sustainable and responsible practices and cleaner technology.
The Bank highlighted that currently, small miners lack the capacity to finance needed surveys and have to resort to the ‘hit or miss’ approach.
It suggested that, instead of the GGMC issuing claims to small miners whose operations are scattered across mining districts, the Government should encourage clusters in designated areas with proven minerals.
To make the clusters more attractive, the Bank proposed that GGMC with the support from international agencies, should undertake geological surveys in areas identified for small-scale mining.
The priority for the government now is to improve Guyana’s capacity for evidence-based mineral resource and aggregate exploitation. The range and extent of mineral and aggregate resources have to be better understood to improve operating standards, green business practices and to inform future resource extraction planning and management, states the strategy.
At present, there are advanced technologies that use metal detectors in geophysical and geochemical analyses, to improve mineral resource prospecting methods.
In this regard, Government intends to conduct mineral ore resource surveys to ensure that mining operations focus on areas with proven reserves.
Information collected through such surveys would be consolidated in a broader land use planning framework.
The GSDS strategy notes Guyana’s need for assistance for such a venture, from qualified international agencies.
Since mining is currently the largest single sector of the Guyanese economy, led by gold and bauxite, the move is likely to reduce the risk of unsuccessful prospecting and significantly minimise costs.
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