Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Robert Persaud has announced the impending construction of a $50M support block for miners at Port Kaituma, which will include the first commercial bank in the area.
Persaud, representatives of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Guyana Forestry Commission, Guyana Lands and Survey Commission and regional officials announced these plans to the Port Kaituma community recently, the Government Information Agency (GINA) said.
GINA said the building in Port Kaituma will house a Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) branch, which would be the first commercial bank in the area, as well as Guyana Gold Board office and living quarters for GGMC staff. The site is already being cleared to start the project.
The minister expects these initiatives to address some of problems in the industry, particularly as it relates to non-declaration of gold. A Gold Board operation will also be set up at Charity in Region Two this year, while the one at Bartica in Region Seven will be revamped. “We want the mining operations in our country to be regularised… there are a lot of irregularities with regards to miners who are non-nationals and we are in discussion with the Ministry of Home Affairs and very soon we will be announcing a campaign to regularise non-Guyanese mining operators,” Persaud added.
He also boasted of Port Kaituma’s potential, particularly now that manganese mining company, Reunion Manganese Inc (RMI) has moved into the region and expects to produce and export manganese by 2014, the first time in 44 years.
“This is a very significant development because in the old days, Port Kaituma was very dependent and linked to what was happening to what was happening in the manganese operation in Matthews Ridge… now is a good time to have a new and vibrant start for this and neighbouring communities,” he said. RMI has already started the groundwork to establish the road and the railway line.
According to GINA, a significant section of the region’s population, including residents from Port Kaituma, are involved in mining. “The impending manganese operation, increase in gold mining and forestry activities, we see Port Kaituma and the wider Region One being at a very critical juncture in taking off; but in so doing, we must recognise that there are certain problems that can hold back these developmental activities that we have to fix,” Persaud said. He noted that the Port Kaituma Neighbour-hood Democratic Council (NDC) collects tolls that amount to about $3M per month. “These resources should be ploughed back into community to boost infrastructural works such as roads,” he said. (Internal community roads fall directly under the responsibility of the NDC with support from the region and central government.)
The minister also noted that it is vital that residents shoulder more responsibility as the area develops. To this end, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development is already putting steps in place to organise itself in a way that allows it to better address the needs of the community.
Regarding small miners, Persaud said a special committee comprising representatives of the GGMC, Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), and the Small Miners’ Association has already completed mapping available mining areas countrywide.
The committee has identified and earmarked mining areas specifically for small miners, including 60 blocks within the Region One mining district alone and there is potential for more to be added. “We want to ensure that the people who are part and parcel of this region, access and benefit from these resources,” Persaud said.