Justice Rishi Persaud has granted an interim injunction against the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and Presidential Advisor Odinga Lumumba, prohibiting them from interfering with the operations of miner Ignatius Timmerman.
The judge also issued an order calling on GGMC and Lumumba to return equipment which Ignatius said was unlawfully seized last Thurs-day. The injunction and the order were granted on Tuesday.
Timmerman, who hails from Bartica, has been fighting a legal battle against GGMC and Lumumba since last year, when the Commission issued a cease order which prevented him from working. Shoreham Resourc-es Inc, which has a connection to Lumumba, has also been named as a respondent in the case.
Timmerman said he was forced recently to seek the injunction through his attorney Anil Nandlall, after the commission ignored a previous court order from Justice Diana Insanally. The case stemmed from a claims dispute and according to Timmerman, Lumumba has accused him of encroaching on certain claims, but he has argued in court documents that the land rightfully belongs to him. He said that since 1991 he has occupied the land after the previous owner sold him the rights, title and interest to the claims in question.
Timmerman said the sale was approved by GGMC and subsequently after the purchase he started small scale mining operations. “…And for every year thereafter I have been paying to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission an annual rent for the said claims and I have been selling to the Guyana Gold Board, with the knowledge and approval of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, all gold extracted from those claims, paying all the relevant royalties and taxes,” he said.
Timmerman said the boundaries for the claims were verified in 1993 and he stated that since then no one, including the GGMC, has ever challenged the boundaries and parameters of the said claims. He added that the claims were published in his name annually in the Official Gazette. Additionally, he said that GGMC has accepted annual payments from him in respect of the claims without any objections or problems between 1991 and 2010.
He said some $40M was spent on the land in the construction of roads, bridges and buildings, including his residence, accommodation for workers, a mess hall, a kitchen, a garage and a workshop.
Timmerman recalled that in July 2010, GGMC officers visited his camp at Mariwa and requested to see the boundary lines, among other things. The officers informed Timmerman that they were in receipt of information that he was encroaching on certain claims. However, he said that after examining his documents, the boundary lines and claim boards, they left.
Timmerman said Lumumba then wrote GGMC on July 21, 2010 to say that he [Timmerman] was carrying on illegal mining operations on an area for which he [Lumumba] holds a prospecting licence. In the same letter, he requested that the commission stop Timmerman’s operations within seventy two (72) hours.
Timmerman said he met with Lumumba at the latter’s request in August and Lumumba informed him about his plans to conduct a verification exercise to confirm the boundaries. The miner said that attempts by a group of men to cut lines through his claims were later thwarted and subsequent to this, he was issued with a cease order from the GGMC.
He said that he unaware of the reason as to why the cease order was issued. He said that he has no other source of livelihood to support his family. Since August, 2010, he added, he has been unable to work as a result of the cease order.
Additionally, Timmerman noted that his fifteen workers, who are the breadwinners of their respective families, are currently without jobs.
He said too that Lumumba and Shoreham Resources Inc. have since begun drilling on various parts of his claims and are ignoring requests to cease their operations.