Georgetown, Guyana – (June 14, 2017) The Protected Areas Commission (PAC) is examining the recommendations made by the Joint Services team, which the Government of Guyana had deployed to the Kaieteur National Park (KNP) to clamp down on mining in Protected Areas, following the end of the operation on Monday. Commissioner of the Protected Areas Commission (PAC), Ms. Denise Fraser said that the Commission will be upping its monitoring activities in the area and will work to establish a plan to ensure that the recommendations, which fall within its remit, are put into full effect.
The Joint Services Report recommended that all operators should be prohibited from transporting mining equipment and other such paraphernalia into the KNP from any port of entry. Additionally, the report called for the impounding of all equipment seized and prosecution of the registered owners. It was also recommended that there be a clear and obvious demarcation of the protected area boundary. With significant water pollution and damage to trees observed in all of the mining areas identified, the team has recommended that remediation efforts should be considered to restore the distorted waterways and damaged patches of forest.
It also called for charges and fines to be instituted against the owners of the equipment, which caused the degradation of the environment. The Joint Services also called for the prohibition of mobile mining activity near the Park and for the removal of ‘draggers’ or mobile dredges from the Potaro River. The Report also pointed out the need for clear and appropriate public information directed at residents and visitors to the Park.
Damaged patches of forest in the Kaieteur National Park
Following the conclusion of the operation, most of the ranks of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the Guyana Police Force and officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) have already left the area, with the remainder expected to be transported to the capital city by the end of tomorrow. As a result of the operation, which included foot patrols and aerial surveillance throughout the Park, illegal mining activity has been brought to an end with equipment seized and mining camp areas secured.
During the two-week operation, eight camps were discovered, six of which were active. According to the findings reported by the Joint Services, 26 mining engines were seized, as well as the equivalent of two and a half barrels of fuel and a diving suit. The team also reported the presence of mobile dredging operations (draggers), which were quickly moved by operators, once they became aware of the presence of the Joint Services.
Makeshift mining apparatus set up in the Kaieteur National Park
Section Four of the Kaieteur National Park Act states, “It shall not be lawful for any person to enter into, travel or encamp within the park or to build any structure therein, or to hunt, chase, catch, shoot at, kill or otherwise disturb any animal or cut, pluck or gather any of the flora or interfere with or disturb the soil by mining or other operations within the park or to remove anything whatsoever from the park except in accordance with regulations made under this act. (2) Any person acting in contravention of any of the provisions of subsection (1) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of ninety-seven thousand five hundred dollars, and anything taken by such person from the park shall be forfeited.”
Further, according to the regulations made under the Mining Act 2005, Part XXVII Section 251 (1) (a), “No person shall conduct mining and quarrying activities in the following areas- (b)In specified nature reserves and parks where resource extraction is prohibited; (c) In buffer areas without express approval of the Commission and the notification of parties likely to be affected by the activity.” Additionally, Section 122 of the Protected Areas Act 2011 states that “Any person, except persons under the Amerindian Act, who mines, quarries, drills or removes any minerals, stone, gravel, earth, sand, or other substances or prospects for such substance in a national protected area commits an offence under paragraph (a) of the Fourth Schedule.”
The Fourth Schedule (a) states “A fine of not less than ten thousand dollars nor more than fifty thousand dollars and (f) a fine of not less than five hundred thousand dollars nor more than two million dollars and one hundred thousand dollars per day for continuance of activity with imprisonment for five years for repeating activity after the second instance.”