Ministry awaits working group report to address Kako mining issues

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MNRE) says that a Working Group formed to examine the mining issues faced by Kako has “committed to developing a working strategy to examine carefully the issues presented to them” and make recommendations to the minister, after which the ministry will focus on designing a way forward to resolving the mining issues.

Stabroek News reported yesterday that in a plea for the safeguarding of their only water source, Kako villagers on Tuesday called for the immediate suspension of mining on the Kako River as well as a banning of future operations upstream from the village during a tense meeting with a government team.

The government team later reported that a working group has been formed to examine the issue in the Region Seven community—one of a number that have pitted Amerindian communities against miners recently.

President Donald Ramotar on Friday at the launch of the Inception Phase of the Low Carbon Development Strategy had said that the issues faced by Kako and another Amerindian community, Isseneru “were blown out of proportion both locally and within the international community.”

In a statement yesterday, the MNRE said that on March 11, ministry representatives met the Indigenous Peoples Commission (IPC) to discuss a way forward on addressing mining issues affecting the Indigenous Peoples at Kako in Region Seven.

The statement said that Kako has advocated mining concerns through letters to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs (MoAA), the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the MNRE.

The statement said that at that meeting, the working group was established to examine the mining issues affecting the Amerindians at Kako and make recommendations on the issues.

The statement said the working group visited the community last Monday and on Tuesday. “Prior to this initiative, instance of mining issues affecting the Indigenous Peoples has been highlighted, particularly in Isseneru, Region 7 and Marudi, in Region 9,” the statement said.

The ministry said that in conjunction with all stakeholders, it has taken the initiative to examine the mining issues of Kako with the intention of designing a way forward to make mining and related activities harmonious, satisfactory and beneficial for miners, the community and other stakeholders. “The Working Group took careful note of the involvement by Amerindians as miners within titled Amerindian lands, contiguous areas and also on state lands,” the statement added.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) has expressed concern over mining on titled land in Isseneru and Kako and has asked government to provide information on the cases as well as to review the granting of permits and concessions without obtaining the prior and informed consent of the affected indigenous communities.

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