Small miners in the Rupununi are petitioning the Ministry of Natural Resources to be allowed to mine on the Prospecting Licence of Romanex, saying that the company is occupying state lands while failing to execute the terms of the mining licence granted to it in April 2009.
According to the letter from the Rupununi Miners Association dated December 7, 2012, 193 petitioners inclusive of dredge owners, workers and other persons are legitimately involved in mining at Marudi and are directly affected by the action of Romanex Guyana.
“Mineral properties are limited to a few land claims and [while] the bulk of the land is under the Romanex Guyana control via its Mining Licence and Prospecting Licence. There are in excess of 25 mining operations in Marudi operating at the medium to small scale level. Competition for available land resources is very high,” the Association’s letter stated.
The Association said that mining and its associated activities play an important part of the livelihood of central and south Rupununi.
Noting that about 20 dredge owners have formed themselves into a group calling itself the Marudi Syndicate, the Assciation said that the Syndicate is requesting the relinquishing of an agreed and negotiated acreage of land controlled by Romanex Guyana from its ML or PL.
“The Syndicate will be fully committed to working under any agreed mechanism worked out by your Ministry and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission,” the Association said.
The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) was originally supportive of the cause of the Rupununi miners and had intimated that in a letter dated December 10, 2012. “The GGDMA is aware of the system whereby land held under prospecting licences (large scale) is relinquished partially in a systematic manner according to the exploration programme of the holder. We recommend that acreages of land be made available to the small miners of Rupununi, Region 9 fairly and transparently and in accordance with the existing regulations,” said GGDMA Administrative Coordinator Colin Sparman.
However, in an about-face, Sparman in another letter on December 14, 2012, withdrew the GGDMA’s support for the efforts of the Rupununi miners. “I wish to respectfully assure you that the GGDMA does not condone unlawful or unregulated practices in the industry. It therefore pains me to report that I was grossly misled by the representative of the Rupununi Miners Association on the true nature of that group’s petition,” he said.
Sparman said his subsequent investigation into the “formation and illegal activities” of Marudi Syndicate had caused him to clarify his position.
In a comment to this newspaper, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud said that areas for prospecting cannot be used for mining. “We intend to meet [with the Rupununi miners to engage them on the issue,” said Minister Persaud, noting that the Ministry must look at the implications of allowing the miners to operate on Romanex’s PL. He said that a meeting with the miners will be convened in the near future.