Record production fails to enhance gold industry’s image

For the fourth consecutive year, Guyana’s gold mining industry has realised record-breaking production levels with overall gold yield for 2012 reaching 400,000 ounces; the highest in the history of the industry. As gold continues to attract increasing levels of local private sector investment, there is also the expectation that one or more of several privately financed Canadian mining ventures in the interior could begin to yield gold, a circumstance, which Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana David Devine told Stabroek Business last week, could double local gold production overnight.

With nothing in recent global predictions suggesting anything but a continually steady rise in gold prices it would seem – at least on the surface – that the short to medium-term prospects for the country’s gold industry are, to say the least, favourable. Both local gold miners and the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) are upbeat about the future of the industry though the optimism of the GGDMA is, of late, measured.

The caution of the local miners and their association derives from recent developments in the industry, some of which have put miners at odds with the authorities.

The creation late last year of a new Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment had given rise to suspicions among miners that government was about to wrench control of the mining sector from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the state agency that administers the gold and diamond mining industry. The advent of the new ministry coincided with a series of spats between the authorities and the miners. More than that, the creation of the new ministry has coincided with undisguised attempts to enforce demanding conditions that have to do with ensuring that mining methods meet higher environmental standards. Some miners are uneasy about the environmental stringencies, claiming that some of the conditionalities are much too harsh to live with.

Officially, the creation of the new Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is credited to the need to need for government to establish stricter controls over a sector which has often shown scant regard for the need to mine gold in a manner that pays heed to the environment.

The GGDMA has said that it fears government is in effect seeking to take control of what, currently, is the most lucrative sector of the country’s economy. Differences between the miners and the ministry have done nothing to slow down investment in the sector or to prevent gold production from consistently reaching record levels over the past four years.

On the other hand, the government’s inability to enforce mining regulations effectively have raised several unanswered questions about just how well it is managing the industry.

Mining officials say that an unmindfulness of mining regulations is accentuated by corrupt practices involving state-employed mines officers who turn a blind eye to transgressions in exchange for payments in gold.

If 2012 was another highly successful year for gold production the image of the industry suffered seriously from major law and order deficiencies. While armed robberies fell significantly from the levels of the previous year, violence in the mining locations as a whole rose alarmingly as several murders arising seemingly out of confrontations between persons involved in gold mining were recorded.

Not only did the interior killings reflect the violence that appears to attach itself to mining communities, it also focused attention on the ineffectiveness of policing in circumstances where the importance of the gold industry ought to have attracted more effective policing.

In mid-December, as the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment was announcing that the industry had met its production target, the GGDMA was announcing that relations between the miners and the ministry had improved though that was not to say that the difficulties had gone away altogether.

In the period ahead, the miners expect to engage the authorities on the restoration of the facility that allowed miners to receive payment for their gold in foreign currency.

No less important, the association says, than the stepping up of interior security.

More in Business

GO-Invest Headquarters

GO-Invest not equipped to fulfil its mandate, PSC says

Private Sector Commission (PSC) believes that the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) is ill-equipped to effectively execute its mandate at this time and is unlikely to be able to do so unless it becomes free to attract its own international funding.

Central bank rules limit commercial bank lending

Development Bank still relevant – PSC

While the risk-averse nature of commercial banks’ lending policies have helped to keep the country’s financial system viable and sound in the face of banking crises in other countries, “rigid central bank restrictions” on commercial bank lending have limited expansion, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) says.

David Falconer

Reflecting on three years of the Credit Bureau

By David Falconer Three years into its introduction the local Credit Bureau seems set to reshape the country’s financial landscape, more particularly, to forever alter the procedures associated with lending.

Parliament View Vendor Oneika Douglas

Parliament View vendors see the over reduced conditions

What has come to be known as Parliament View Mall—the description could hardly be more inappropriate—is a hotbed of muted but ill-concealed resentment amongst the more than 100 vendors evicted from the Stabroek Market Square three months ago to their new, decidedly unappealing location.

Raymond Trotz

October festival poised to raise profile of local coconut industry

Guyana’s first ever coconut festival, billed for October, is poised to do more than any previous initiative to raise awareness of the importance of the product, Chairman of the National Stakeholders Forum for Coconut Development Raymond Trotz has said.

default placeholder

Corruption present in counterfeit, expired goods import – Public Health Ministry source

As increasing numbers of cases of importation of counterfeit and/or expired goods, particularly milk, drugs, items of food and medical devices continue to show up on the local radar, a reliable Public Health Ministry source has told Stabroek Business that it is rife with corruption, adding that the authorities no longer appear to have “reliable control” over the integrity of several consignments of consumer goods imported into the country.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.



Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: