There is no evidence at this time that ‘blood’ gold from Venezuela is making its way to Guyana.
While for the first half, declarations are up, there are just no such indications, says Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman.
The Minister was being questioned Thursday at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre during a review of the Ministry’s performance for the first half.
In the past days, a report by CNN suggested significant gold being siphoned off and sold overseas.
With trade still ongoing between the two countries and significant number of Venezuelan migrants fleeing to Guyana, there have been questions.
According to the Ministry of Finance’s half-year report on the country’s performance, the gold mining subsector is estimated to have expanded by 4.4 percent at the end of the first half of 2019, to reach 300,674 ounces.
“Further growth was curtailed by a shortfall in production by one of the large mining companies whose access to higher grade ore has been restricted as a result of a wall pit failure in 2018. Production by the other large company, in the first half of 2019, exceeded the previous year’s production by 10.1 percent, but fell short of the budgeted amount.”
The report would have been referring to the Canadian-owned AGM Inc., which operates a large-scale camp in Cuyuni, Region 7.
Government is anticipating that activities in the second half of the year, which include underground exploration, could reverse the shortfall.
“The industry’s half-year performance also benefitted from a 15.8 percent increase in declarations from small and medium scale miners, who accounted for more than 60 percent of declarations in the reporting period.”
According to the report, miners responded positively to improved road and weather conditions earlier in the year, while the surge in declarations in the second quarter was largely in response to more favourable international prices.
“This momentum in production is expected to continue into the second half of the year and push annual growth in the subsector to 3.2 percent, greater than the 2.5 percent projected at the time of Budget 2019.”
As of yesterday, world gold prices were just under US$1,530 per ounce.
Venezuela’s porous border with Brazil and Colombia has become the main avenue through which the gold leaves the country.
According to CNN, Venezuela’s gold trail leads all the way up from the jungle to Venezuela’s Central Bank.
“Surrounded by government buildings, it is here where the country’s golden fortune has been amassed. According to a source inside the bank, around 70 tonnes of the valuable mineral remain inside its coffers, the lowest amount in decades,” the report said.
“Forced to provide some relief for a population starving under a crumbling economy, crippled further by US sanctions, which have made trade increasingly difficult, (President Nicolas) Maduro saw in gold the commodity that oil could no longer be increasingly prized, historically stable in value and considerably easier to ship around the world. Gold would allow the regime to suppress some of the country’s needs while allegedly enriching Maduro and winning the military’s favour.”
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