Georgetown, Guyana – (October 15, 2015) Minister of Governance, with responsibility for the Natural Resources and the Environment, Raphael Trotman has charged the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission’s (GGMC) Board of Directors to step up its efforts to ensure a safe and secure mining sector is achieved.
The Minister declared that stricter measures will now have to be taken by that agency to ensure that the laws are enforced and upheld. This charge was given to the Board, this afternoon, at a meeting held at the GGMC Boardroom on Brickdam.
Addressing the Directors, which included Clinton Williams, Chairman of the GGMC Board, Gerry Gouveia, Director on the GGMC Board, Rickford Vieira, Commissioner of GGMC, Terrence Adams, President, Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) and Lisaveta Ramotar, Head of the Guyana Gold Board (GGB), Minister Trotman said that the day for “free passes” are over and it is now time that the mining sector is put on a safe and stable footing.
The Minister referenced President Granger’s speech at the first gold pour at the Aurora Gold mines, where the Head of State had declared, “The days of the free-for-all are over, and we need to be more environmentally conscious if we are to hand this country over to our children and grandchildren… The health and safety of entire communities are being threatened by unsafe mining practices…Sometimes large areas are cleared for mining but after the mining ceases we just have holes in the ground to show posterity.”
Minister Trotman said added that GGMC must ensure that it holds accountable, the miners, who are responsible for these ‘lawless’ practices. “The responsibility for the environment is not solely that of the State. It is the responsibility of those who own and operate mining concessions to ensure that after they would have ceased operations they do not leave these huge abscesses on our landscape, but that the land is reclaimed by nature,” he said.
The Minister of Governance pointed out that as it stands, the sector has attracted criticism. “The thrust of this, is the manner in which, the industry is viewed and regulated. It has to change. We must protect and preserve our national patrimony for the others to come,” Minister Trotman said.
Continuing, Minister Trotman informed the Board on the expectations of the government. “It has to be regulated better …we must make mining safer, have no incidences of corruption and graft and we must examine how we can ensure that the people of Guyana benefit. That is the policy of the government. The Minister, the Commission and the Commissioner must work together and cooperation and respect must be given to each other,” he emphasised.
Acknowledging the need for improved infrastructure and the Government’s role in providing these, Minister Trotman told the Board that it is also their responsibility to ensure that the environmental and health facets of the sector are not neglected.
“It is our job is to provide infrastructure. That’s a governmental function, but we need to ensure the security and safety of the sector. We need to improve health and environmental practices. They [miners] have been given a free pass for too long. We have to put them to work. An environmental bond of $100,000 is simply insufficient and we must address this,” he declared.
The Minister also told the Directors of the Board that the granting of duty free concessions must now come with an attached condition, which is that miners must practice safe and sustainable mining.
“You’ve got to show that you are paying your taxes; that you haven’t left lands with gaping holes and you’re practicing safe mining. At the end of the day to qualify, you’ve got to show you are mining in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way,” Minister Trotman outlined.
The Minister of Governance also said that the Government was examining the possibility of the re-establishment of a Mining Court, which will deal strictly with mining related matters so as to minimise the time spent on such matters in the Civil Court.
In the meantime, Clinton Williams, Chairman of the GGMC Board of Directors, assured Minister Trotman that the mandate given by President David Granger will be fulfilled, even as he pledged the Agency’s commitment to ensuring that it operates in a fair, balanced and unbiased manner.
“We intend to use the president’s presentation as a basis to developing our plan. We intend to move the bar… Now that the way has been cleared for the Board to operate and the President has given his mandate, we will carry out our duties without fear or favour,” Williams assured.