Scrambling to counter falling gold declarations, the authorities have decided to open up large swathes of lands for mining with an auction and lotteries to be held within the next six weeks.
“A large portion of land will be available for auction and lottery in all the mining districts,” Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Clinton Williams told Stabroek News following a meeting of the GGMC’s Closed Area Commit-tee yesterday.
He said that an auction will be held by the end of July in Georgetown while lotteries for mining properties will be held in all the mining districts two weeks later.
In the past, miners have called for more lands to be released, but neither an auction nor a lottery for mining properties has occurred in recent times and the meeting yesterday reviewed applications for land that were submitted previously. There were a number of outstanding applications for land, Stabroek News was told.
In a statement earlier this week, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment said that the Committee has started to identify mining properties for lottery/auction and as alternatives for miners who had to relinquish their properties due to the Amerindian titling process.
Small miners and new entrants to the mining sector have been calling for mining properties and the lotteries in the various mining districts, the ministry acknowledged.
The reconstitution of the committee comes in the wake of a drastic drop in gold declarations.
Government and gold miners have not been seeing eye-to-eye as regards the recent drop and miners are mobilising in the face of what they see as an unwarranted crackdown on them by the government over the 20% decline in declarations.
High on the agenda for a miners’ association meeting on Thursday is the planned enforcement of a law which could see jail time for the hoarding of the precious metal.
Government’s alarm over the slump in declaration has seen it revive the Closed Area Committee but it has also backed this up with the planned enforcement of mostly dormant provisions in the Guyana Gold Board Act. It has also scheduled a meeting with gold miners on Monday, three days before the miners meet, “to further deliberate on matters of collaboration to ensure that the gold mining sector efficiently serves the national economy.”
The government has accused miners of hoarding gold but miners and industry insiders have said that there has been a decline in production and this is primarily responsible for the lower declaration.
The miners have also cited the lower international price for gold and higher costs for mining.
Over the last month, concerns have grown over the slide in gold declarations as the precious metal has been a driver of the economy over the last five years and a pivotal source of foreign exchange.