Relocation ahead for 14 Mile Issano community

– to make way for Troy Resources mine

The Region Seven gold mine to be built by the Australian firm Troy Resources Guyana Inc would see the 14 Mile Issano community, a mining settlement which according to one estimate comprises some 100 persons, having to relocate.

“The 14 Mile Issano community is located within the footprint of the proposed open pit. This community would have to be relocated and resettled to make this project a reality,” the final Terms of Reference for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the gold mine states. The ESIA is currently being done by Ground Structures Engineering Consultants Inc.

Troy Resources has proposed a medium-scale gold mine designed to produce up to 110,000 ounces of gold per annum based on an average overall recovery of 92% at the Black Water Creek, Kaburi Area, in Region Seven. The company last year took over Pharsalus Gold Inc (PGI) which holds gold mining rights to several contiguous properties, acquired by vendor agreements and direct grants, totalling approximately 1100 km2.

Pharsalus last September had applied to the Environmental Protec-tion Agency (EPA) for authorisation to carry out large-scale gold mining on the concession. The EPA had released a notice indicating that an Environ-mental Impact Assessment (EIA) was required for the project, since it may have significant impacts on the environment and the planned use of cyanide raised environmental concerns.

According to the final ToR for the ESIA, the concession and immediately adjacent areas have supported mining activities for over one hundred years primarily related to the recovery of gold and diamonds by open pit mining. These activities are ongoing and have spawned the development of a community within the contiguous properties at 14 Mile Issano which predates the granting of the mining rights to PGI.

The “medium sized” 14 Mile Issano has been in existence for 28 years and several individuals reside and operate businesses in the community, according to the document. It added that there are several other small/medium scale mining communities located within 10 km of the concession. It said that the community would have to be relocated to make the project a reality.

“Resettlement, if not properly implemented may lead to trauma, social unrest, conflict and impoverishment and the associated disruption of social patterns. These consequences may haunt the operation over the duration of the project life. Resettlement will also exert pressures on existing social systems with both direct and indirect impacts. Indirect social impacts will occur in this instance since the change process will leave 14 Mile Issano residents with no other option but to move,” the document says.

It added that resettlement may also entail loss of both physical and non-physical assets, including homes, productive land, income earning assets and sources, substance, resource, social networks and ties, cultural identity and mutual help mechanisms.

The document says that a socioeconomic impact management plan must be developed and it will identify a mechanism for promoting good community partnership and development of partnership with communities directly impacted by the project. A negotiated Resettlement Plan will also be developed for the 14 Mile Issano community based on consultations between the company, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the EPA and residents of 14 Mile Issano. “The plan will include fair and appropriate non-monetary compensation, plus other incentives and benefits to affected individuals and will include measures to ensure the restoration of the livelihood activities of affected persons,” the document says.

It said that the resettlement plan must conform to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 5. The objectives of that plan should be to minimize involuntary resettlement wherever feasible by exploring alternative project designs and to mitigate adverse social and economic impacts from land acquisition or restrictions on affected persons’ use of land by providing compensation for loss of assets at replacement cost and ensuring that resettlement activities are implemented with appropriate disclosure of information, consultation, and the informed participation of those affected.

Other objectives are to improve or at least restore the livelihoods and standards of living of displaced persons and to improve living conditions among displaced persons through provision of adequate housing with security of tenure at resettlement sites.

According to a mining sector official, 14 Miles Issano is not a typical community but more of a “shop front” area though some persons have been there for a long time. “I would think you have over 100 persons there” at present, the official said adding, that “It is a well-known development there.” Persons have been doing business there for years with some having been issued so-called “business permission” or “residential permission” by the GGMC which is renewable annually. In such cases, the person does not have long term land rights.

Troy Resources requires a new mining licence for the operation and one of the mandatory requirements is the conduct and submission of a feasibility study which must include an ESIA for approval by the GGMC.

The mine will be focused on the recovery of ore for processing from Smarts and Hicks gold deposits. The project components include an open cut mine, processing plant, tailings storage facility, mine site accommodation and additional infrastructure required to recover and to process ore for the recovery of gold.

Development and operation of the mine site will involve several distinct phases including the relocation and resettlement of the community at 14 Mile Issano, construction of mine site infrastructure and upgrade of mine site access road, construction of a process plant and the staged construction of tailings storage facility.

The mine site will be accessed by crossing the Essequibo River at either Butakari or at Mango Landing. The Butakari crossing was developed as part of the Amaila Falls access road infrastructure while Mango Landing was created for access to the former Omai Gold Mines. The company will hold discussions with the Ministry of Transport and other entities to determine if it would be allowed to use the Butakari Crossing and Amaila Falls Access Road. Alternatively, it will rehabilitate the old Omai crossing at Mango Landing and upgrade the section of the existing roadway linking that crossing to the Amaila Falls Access road and then use a section of the Amaila Falls road to intersect a new road which will provide access to the mine site.

If the company is denied access to the Amaila Falls road, it will upgrade and utilize a roadway which currently provides access to the mine site. If access is granted to the Amaila Falls Access Road, the company will negotiate with the government to financially assist with the maintenance of the Amaila Falls Road.

The airstrip, to service the proposed mining operation, has already been constructed and granted approval for operation by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority.

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