GGMC lays out position on mercury, river mining

The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) notes the increasing amount of misinformation being circulated by a few disgruntled persons in the mining sector, about the plans, policies and actions of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and the GGMC. These persons appear to want to manipulate the Commission to serve their own agendas and interests.

Over the past few weeks there have been numerous claims that the Ministry and the Commission have not been consulting with stakeholders, particularly the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) and Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO). However, there are documented evidence that will prove otherwise and show the numerous active and constructive consultations in the following areas:

QUESTION: Does the Government/Guyana Geology and Mines Commission intend to ban the use of mercury?

ANSWER:  The Government and regulatory agency, the GGMC has not taken any decision to put a ban on the use of mercury. The Government is currently lobbying for provisions/obligations from developed countries, for adequate financial, technical and capacity building mechanism to support developing countries and countries with economies in transition, in optimizing economic benefits without the use of mercury but with a phasing-out  transition process.

Several international environmental and health organizations including the United Nations Environment program (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have identified the adverse effects of mercury pollution and have classified it as a serious global environmental and human health problem. In fact, the UNEP Governing Council has targeted reducing methyl mercury accumulations in the global environment as a major priority.

Only recently, the GGMC participated at the Fourth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee to prepare a legally binding instrument on mercury, held in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The attendance and participation will enable GoG/GGMC to be involved in discussions and interactions with representatives of government, research agencies, civil society and other stakeholders in the negotiation process that will help to develop and recommend solutions to key challenges facing the sectors that are applicable to Guyana. Of particular relevance will be the development of a global legally binding instrument on Mercury. This is part of the holistic plan to have the industry adapt to a changing world.

To date, the Government of Guyana has not signed on to any international document or made any commitment on the banning of mercury. We will continue to engage all stakeholders in the mining sector on this issue.

QUESTION: Is there a lack of consultations on the future developmental policies and plans for the mining sector?

ANSWER: The Minister and/or the GGMC met with representatives of the mining sector every month since the establishment of the Ministry. Further the Minister and the GGMC has kept its commitment of having full-fledged extensive discussion/dialogue and the last two were held on May 16 and July 10. In addition, both the GGDMA and the GWMO attended and made special presentations at the GGMC’s Retreat to review the strategic plan of the Commission and by extension, the future of the mining sector.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and the GGMC remain firmly committed to close collaboration and even enhanced consultation and dialogue with the mining community. Claims of lack of consultation and involvement between the regulatory agency and the stakeholders have no basis and the series of meetings held represent sustained active and constructive consultations. Additionally, the GGDMA has a presence on the Board of Directors of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Guyana Gold Board, Technical Sub-Committees and other ad hoc working groups relating to matters within the Mining Sector. Most recently, the GGDMA has been invited to submit their representative to a technical working committee to review the river mining issue. While a commitment has been made by the GGDMA, the nomination is still outstanding.  Further, on July 20 invitation was extended for the GGDMA to have another nominee sit on the Board of the GGMC. Also a commitment was made for the GWMO to have a representative as an observer on the deliberations of the GGMC Board.

QUESTION: Has the Government banned River and Tributary Mining?

ANSWER: The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission has publicized on numerous occasions that there is NO BAN ON RIVER MINING. Concerns with regard to river mining were highlighted by Amerindian Communities, Indigenous Organisations, Environmental Groups, Civil Society and numerous individuals to the GGMC and the Ministry, during engagements with stakeholders at Bartica, Mahdia and with Brazilian Miners, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Association and others.  Whilst there is no ban, there is an ongoing review of the current management/oversight arrangement of river and tributary mining and took the position of not accepting for ONE MONTH any new applications for river claims until the review was completed and recommendations tabled for discussion and decision.

In addition, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, GGMC and the GGDMA met and discussed among other issues, environmental concerns relating to river mining. The meeting agreed to the setting up of a technical joint working group that included the GGDMA, EPA and the GGMC to carry out a review in one month, of environmental issues and concerns pertaining river and tributary mining.  It is therefore absolutely clear that there has been no decision to stop river and tributary mining.



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