Regularising Brazilian miners may see some being sent home

The process of fast-tracking the regularisation of Brazilians working in the local gold industry could now begin in earnest following a call issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs for more than 600 miners, mostly Brazilians to report to the ministry’s Immigration Division.

However, a source close to the mining sector told Stabroek Business that while most of the Brazilians are likely to be finally cleared to reside here and work in the gold industry, the processing exercise could lead to “small numbers” of them who have been operating outside the legal framework being sent home.

Public notices in Portuguese regarding the desirability of Brazilians seeking to work in the mining sector securing permission through the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) have previously between published but these, according to the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) have been discontinued for some time.

When contacted GGDMA official Colin Sparman told Stabroek Business that as far as the association was aware the summons by the Home Affairs Ministry was indeed a significant development that could lead to Brazilians being formally granted permission to live here and to work in the gold-mining industry. Sparman said there were indeed cases in which Brazilians had proceeded to begin to work in the gold-mining industry here based on no documentation beside a receipt indicating that they had applied for permission to do so.

Stabroek Business has been reliably informed that there are “thousands” of Brazilians working in the local gold mining sector and Sparman confirmed that some of them are employed by Guyanese members of the GGDMA.

While the movement of Brazilian miners into the mining regions of Guyana dates back decades, stricter mining laws on the Brazilian side of the border and corresponding looseness in local mining operations triggered the significant movement of Brazilians across the border during the early 1990s.

One likely effect of the regularisation of the status of the Brazilian miners, according to the industry source, is that it would “significantly reduce the corrupt practices and shakedowns” to which Brazilians mining illegally in Guyana have been subjected. Asked to comment on this view, Sparman said it was no secret that some functionaries responsible for ensuring the integrity of the system, have been under suspicion of being engaged in “shakedown activities.”

The official summons along with the names and passport numbers of those persons required to report to the Ministry of Home Affairs was published in last Sunday’s edition of the state-run Guyana Chronicle.

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