Bartica miners to seek formal recognition

-say ‘no enemy’ of GGDMA

The Committee of Concerned Barticians (CCB) is moving to formally register as an organisation to represent miners—a move that could have implications for unity in the industry.

Currently, the only registered body representing miners is the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) but Executive Member of the CCB Simona Broomes confirmed last week that the committee is “proceeding to be registered.” She said that the new body will be independent of the GGDMA but is “not an enemy” of the organisation.

The move was not unexpected as reports had surfaced within the industry that a new body to represent miners was being formed. The chairman of the CCB is Frederick McWilfred, who earlier in the year successfully mobilized miners across the country to protest new rules being considered for mining operations. He was subsequently elected President of the GGDMA but resigned after a mere five months at the helm, citing differences with the executives of the body over the treatment of small and medium scale miners, among other issues. He had told Stabroek News that while he remains a member of the GGDMA, he was unsure of whether he will support decisions made by the body in the future. He had noted that his tenure as President of the GGDMA had seen him garnering support from mostly the small miners within the industry whom, he said, did not have a voice on issues affecting the industry.

McWilfred had denied speculation about a parallel body being formed to represent the industry. He had explained earlier this year, when reforms to the sector were being brought to the fore, that the CCB was set up to deal with issues which included, but were not restricted to, the mining industry. The committee was set up to address several issues, including the future of the gold-mining community when gold mining areas are mined-out and water pollution, he had said.

Last week, Broomes said the CCB is “proceeding to be registered.” She said its members have always been meeting and had met after McWilfred’s resignation and are “just moving ahead from where he had left off.” Rules and regulations for the new organisation, which will focus on small and medium scale miners, have been drafted and elections will be held shortly, she said.

Broomes noted that the larger miners and the small miners have different “levels” of concerns but ultimately all are miners and the new organisation will be working with the GGDMA. She noted that while the CCB is not yet formally registered, it has been recognised at the highest levels, including by President Bharrat Jagdeo. The organisation, she said, is “only formalizing a few things that need to be formalized.” She said that there are some larger miners within the CCB and they are looking forward to working with the GGDMA.

Chairman of the Mahdia Small Miners Association Timothy Junior also said, when contacted, that big miners and small miners are in the same boat. He said that no matter their differences, they have to come together. However, he said, the Constitution of the GGDMA should be “modernized” so as to facilitate representation of a wider scope of the industry.

Meantime, speaking with this newspaper shortly after his resignation, McWilfred had said that the membership of the GGDMA only represents a fraction of the total number of miners within the industry and there had been moves to improve this number.

He had said that he decided to tender his resignation since, according to him, working with the current members of the Management Committee of the GGMDA had become difficult. Stabroek News was told that McWilfred was not in agreement with ads being placed in sections of the media by persons in the industry as he thought same were not in the interest of the industry but rather, a selected few.

McWilfred stated in his resignation letter addressed to Terrence Adams, Secretary of the GGDMA, that at the last management meeting of the association he sought clarification of his role as president since according to him, “the rules are very vague as to the functions of officers of the association and the functions, which are normally those of the heads of most if not all organisations, are in the case of the GGDMA being carried out by its executive director.”

He stated that the management committee, at that meeting, confirmed that it had, prior to his election as president, agreed, and the general membership of the body had confirmed, that the executive director was  the “…sole executive authority of the association and the only one that was authorized to speak officially on its  behalf.”

Reports are that the association was of the view that McWilfred was not an active member, and a source at the association had explained that the president is elected to serve the miners within the industry, but not in an executive capacity. It was noted too that all decisions and directives are given by the body’s management committee.

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