Dec 31, 2019 News
Medium-scale miners who have not paid up tens of millions of dollars in rent arrears for their concessions have been granted a further three months.
The last-minute extension was announced yesterday by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).
With elections three months away, miners have been revving up with their demands for concessions and other breaks, citing tough conditions.
Yesterday, in a notice, the ministry said that following numerous requests from miners and their representative organisations, the Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, has issued a directive to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) to extend the final amnesty for miners regards the payment of rentals.
The organisations include the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), the Guyana Women Miners’ Organisation (GWMO) and the National Mining Syndicate (NMS).
The ministry disclosed that the amnesty has now been extended from December 31st 2019 to March 31st 2020.
“This applies to all medium-scale property holders who are in arrears and whose properties have not been published as cancelled in the Official Gazette. The penalty accrued on such arrears will continue to attract a waiver of fifty percent (50%).”
The ministry urged all property holders to avail themselves to the “offer”, lest the properties become cancelled.
“The MNR further advises that this opportunity be taken to make all outstanding payments of rentals before the new
Recently, head of the Commission, Newell Dennison, had warned there will be more cancellation of concessions if miners fail to pay up by the end of December.
Just last month, the GGMC, through an order by Minister Trotman, cancelled 24 medium-scale mining concessions due to outstanding rental fee payments.
The Prospecting Permit Medium Scale (PPMS) Exemption Order, was published in the Official Gazette on October 5, 2019. The Order came into effect on September 15 last.
With respect to the 24 concessions cancelled, the Order states that they will be reserved for disposal by the bidding and lottery processes.
The GGMC had warned that the grace period ending December 31, 2019 will not be extended.
Earlier this month, miners placed the ball in the courts of all political parties to have more representation for their sector. They created a manifesto of their own. They started off their list by saying, “Miners in Guyana demand more serious representation and less lip service from political parties.”
In their proposal, the GGDMA and NMS highlighted 11 issues that they would like to see being addressed.
The first issue dealt with government’s plans to phase out mercury from mining.
According to the miners, no phasing out of mercury must be done without a viable, proven replacement. It was stated that the provision of financial and technical assistance must be provided to miners to phase out the use of mercury. Also, affordable alternative technology must be provided to miners.
Moreover, the miners called for improved infrastructure to the mining sector. The political parties must provide new roads to access new mining areas and a better maintenance plan for the interior roads, including timely issuing of construction and maintenance contracts.
Furthermore, the miners wanted better incentives.
According to the announcement, they would like access to cheaper fuel by reducing duties and taxes, removal of VAT and duty on all mining equipment, reduction in duties on new vehicles and a reduction of VAT and taxes across the board.
The next issue to be addressed is the financing for the sector, which the miners are seeking to have mining permits issued for 10-15 years in the first instance.
The miners are also asking to have no increase in rental fees for mining lands, greater border control, with increased security presence and faster police response.
Moreover, the miners are calling for a revamp of the Guyana Mining Act and a repositioning of Guyana’s Mining Policy, which takes into consideration the realities and capabilities of operators in the interior.
Gold mining has been the biggest foreign currency earner for the country, overtaking rice and sugar in the last decade. Its top place is being threatened to be overtaken by the oil and gas sector.
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