Miners still to define position on land use committee report

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) says that it has not defined its position on the draft report of the extended Special Land Use Committee (SLUC).

The SLUC had been set up earlier this year by President Bharrat Jagdeo to look into mining issues after miners raised concerns that the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) would affect their operations and livelihoods.

“The draft report has just been prepared and the GGDMA is in the process (of) reviewing the contents to ensure that it adequately reflects that discussions which form its basis”, said the GGDMA in a statement yesterday. “The mining body wishes to state that it has not definitively stated a position on the draft report, rather expressed the opinion on the positive spirit in which the discussions took place”.

While the statement did not say so, it appeared to be a response to an article in yesterday’s edition of the Guyana Chronicle headlined ‘Land-use committee wraps up mining sector probe’ and sub-headed ‘Mining body happy with findings’. The article said that members of the GGDMA “are happy that the   report to be submitted to Cabinet reflects the sentiments of all miners”. It said that executive members of the GGDMA made this disclosure during an interaction with miners and other residents of Mahdia, Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) last Monday. According to the article, GGDMA President, Frederick McWilfred disclosed that the committee has completed its recommendations, and a report has been prepared by Transport and Hydraulics Minister, Robeson Benn, its Chairman.

The article said that McWilfred reiterated that the report reflected the sentiments of all miners, and that the GGDMA is confident that their recommendations will be taken seriously.

In the statement yesterday, the GGDMA said that the SLUC is currently discussing the draft report with a view to preparing the final report prior to the document being sent to President Jagdeo. “The GGDMA has not defined its position on the report and cannot do so until we have thoroughly examined the contents and the final document prepared. The team is still in discussion”, it emphasized.

According to the statement, the negotiations were conducted in a professional manner with respect for the positions on all sides.

The mandate of the committee was to agree on a position and prepare a report which can be submitted to the cabinet of Guyana to inform them as to the position of the sides. “We are confident that once the SLUC has given its approval the recommendations in the report will be taken seriously as it will serve in the best national interest and will benefit all Guyanese”, said the GGDMA adding that the mining sector remains the largest private sector employer and the greatest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product of Guyana.

The SLUC was set up after widespread protests by miners over a stipulation by the GGMC that notice had to be given before mining could start.

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