The Ministry of National Resources and the Environment and the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) joined other stakeholders to discuss plans for growth, security and health in the mining sector, at a luncheon held on Wednesday.
Natural Resources and the Environment Minister Robert Persaud, GGDMA president Patrick Harding and senior officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Guyana Gold Board discussed technical assistance to the mining sector, security concerns, health issues, infrastructure development and other issues affecting the industry with a view to identifying viable solutions, a joint statement from the ministry and miners said.
Persaud had also invited Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee and Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran to the luncheon to share their plans for the hinterland and to address issues raised by the GGDMA.
The minister congratulated the GGDMA and all miners for their record gold declaration of 438,000 ounces in 2012. He also reflected on the relationship the two entities enjoyed last year, noting that the ministry and the GGDMA and other stakeholders will continue to discuss ways of capitalising on the opportunities within the mining sector, and identify ways to overcome challenges towards a sustainable and economically viable sector.
During his interaction with miners, the Home Affairs Minister outlined some of the initiatives that would be implemented in the security reform of the sector. Rohee reiterated that one such reform is to move the Guyana Police Force to the Guyana Police Service, with the aim of increasing efficiency, reliability and the effectiveness of the services the police offer to the public.
Rohee also said he expects that de-linking the ‘E’ and ‘F’ divisions and re-establishing them as separate divisions headed by senior police officers will better serve the needs of mining communities. Increased police mobility and a new Floating Outpost and security checkpoints will also be set up to meet the needs of mining communities.
The minister also revealed that the application process and granting of firearm licences was revised and all applications would be reviewed by a Firearm License Approval Board, which will be established to ensure that the process is structured, transparent and just. The application process will also be computerised to expedite and streamline the process.
In his address, Ramsaran provided an overview of the objectives for the mining sector, with specific emphasis on reducing the incidence of malaria in the hinterland. Ramsaran said the sector will benefit from an initial distribution of 50,000 Long Lasting Impregnated Nets, which will start on January 15. Distribution would primarily target regions One, Seven and Nine and other “hot spot” communities affected by the disease such as logging camps, permanent members of the communities/villages, pregnant women and children as well as the elderly or disabled.
Meanwhile, Harding expressed appreciation to Minister Persaud for inviting his colleagues to the meeting to address its concerns. He also expressed gratitude for the commitments made to the mining sector and reaffirmed the Association’s pledge to partner with the Natural Resources Ministry and other government agencies towards the growth and sustainability of the sector.
A number of initiatives discussed at the meeting would be addressed under the framework established by the ministry and the GGDMA to review such matters, the statement said.
It also noted that the luncheon was held in keeping with the ministry’s pledge to establish a more inclusive and collaborative working relationship with the miners association and to continue building on achievements made in 2012.