A new head of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) is expected to be named soon and the mining regulation body will over the coming months be restructured to further enhance its functions.
The GGMC has been without a commissioner for several months and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud noted yesterday that even before the formation of his new ministry talks were being held at the level of Cabinet to further improve the operations and effectiveness of the GGMC.
Persaud was at the time speaking to more than two dozen miners at the last members meeting for the year of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) yesterday.
“We intend to be much more focused… within the matter of weeks, and no harm done to Ms [Karen] Livan (acting commissioner), a new commissioner of the GGMC is needed and will be appointed,” Persaud said, while adding that the appointment will be one of a few that will be made at the senior level, since several high ranking officials at the GGMC are nearing retirement age.
Persaud also noted that there is need for a reorganisation of the GGMC “to cope with changes taking place” in the mining industry. “We cannot have a 20th century organization serving a 21st century sector,” he said, while telling miners that such a situation would be an “injustice” to them and the sector.
He said that while the situation puts the personnel within the GGMC at a disadvantage, his remarks yesterday were not meant to be “condemnatory” of inputs made by them towards the functioning of the agency.
Persaud noted bluntly that while the GGDMA may complain of unfair treatment or manipulation at the level of the GGMC, the ministry will not tolerate attempts to influence the agency.
“We are aware of what is taking place, I am aware of what is taking place,” he said.
Meanwhile, the production target of 320,000 ounces of gold set by miners for 2011 has already been surpassed by 20 ounces and Persaud noted that the development will bring significant benefits to the sector and the country as a whole.
He said that the government will continue to implement newer and better practices to support the sector.
He emphasised that the mining sector is crucial for socio-economic development, while noting that thousands of persons depend on the sector directly and indirectly. He said he was happy that the miners association and the government share common views as regards the sector.
Shedding light on the functions of his ministry, Persaud said that it is the one intended to bring all the major facets of natural resources towards being developed and managed while simultaneously ensuring that the environment and sustainable development are kept on the front burner.
Persaud added that he is aware that issues affecting the miners have engaged the GGMC and he said that these will be addressed as the new ministry is being set up. Issues such as security, conflicts arising with the village councils over titled Amerindian lands, occupational health and safety practices as well as the anticipated phasing out of the use of mercury by 2013 are being examined as the ministry is being structured.
Meantime, moves are already in train to set up a mining school. Persaud announced that he was committed to the venture, while adding that the school will relate to the extraction of minerals as well as the oil and gas sector.
He said that discussions have been taking place in this regard and noted that the GGDMA, the Canadian government and the relevant sector agencies have been engaged on the initiative.