Amid record gold production, the Chairman of the GGMC, Eton Chester has said that the industry would be faced with many challenges next year: some dramatic and others subtle but none insignificant.
Chester, a banker, made the statement in a message he issued on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners’ Association (GGDMA) and which was contained in an advertisement in the Sunday Stabroek of December 23.
“I am confident that the next year would bring progress in the mining sector, but it will also present countless challenges to the Commission, the miners and the Ministry (of Natural Resources). I am also sure that the Commission and the miners would not always agree on how best to meet those challenges, but if we approach these obstacles and opportunities with a spirit of mutual respect, partnership and the goal of sustainability of the industry, then I am sure we can overcome all hurdles”, Chester said.
While he did not elaborate on the challenges, the GGMC and the Ministry had a well-publicised skirmish this year with miners over the intended cessation of alluvial mining. The GGMC and the ministry however reversed course and alluvial mining is continuing.
Another issue that is likely to be on the front burner is the global push to end the export of mercury.
This will have repercussions on the processing of gold here and the GGMC and the Ministry may come under pressure to take action. The reputed smuggling of gold –catapulted into the headlines by a huge heist in Curacao last month – is also likely to be one of the sources of contention between miners and the regulatory body.
Deforestation benchmarks in the forestry deal between Guyana and Norway may also pose issues for the industry.
Chester said that the Association has much to celebrate after 30 years and pointed to its attainment of production of 403,000 ozs of gold as of December 14 this year. “This in itself is a historical achievement given that gold production when Guyana’s largest mine (Omai) was operating was 455,000 ounces”, he said.
In his message, President of the GGDMA Patrick Harding also pointed to the record declaration of gold and said that the small and medium scale gold and diamond mining industry is the fastest growing mining sector in the country.
He also alluded to challenges next year for the industry. Among these he said were:
-finding an alternative recovery agent to mercury;
-improving the rate of recovery of gold from sluice boxes;
-finding the best methods for prospecting on mining lands;
-studying methods of land reclamation and restoration.
“The GGDMA is calling on you, the miner, the dredge owner to mine in a responsible manner. It is expected that with the increased investment in machinery and technology the miner will give more recognition to the environment he/she is mining”, Harding said.
He also urged the miners to sell gold only to the Guyana Gold Board and licensed buyers.
Minister of Natural Resources Robert Persaud in his statement on the 30th anniversary hailed the performance of the miners and added that the “GGDMA have a significant role to play with the support of the ministry to crack down on illegal mining, increasing gold declaration, technology advancement and the maintenance of corporate social responsibilities to mining communities”.