Brazil association says gold illegally seized from miner

The Brazilian Mining and General Association is alleging that Mining Officers from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) wrongfully seized an unspecified amount of gold from a miner in the Mazaruni Mining area of Puruni.

The allegations were yesterday made by Antonio Szala, Secretary of the association. The man said that last Thursday they received a complaint from Jose Soares Souse Filho, who informed him of the incident. He said that he traveled into the area last Friday to investigate the matter and returned on Wednesday.

It should be noted that Filho is without a mining licence although his dredge is said to be registered. Szala said that the man reportedly applied for a mining licence some time back but has not yet been issued with one.

Szala was told that a team of Mining Officers from the GGMC confronted Filho, who owns and operates a dredge in the area. The officers reportedly took away a quantity of gold which Filho said took him four months to gather.

GGMC’s Commissioner, Rickford Veira could not be contacted for a comment on the matter despite efforts made yesterday afternoon and evening.

Despite his pleading, Filho’s gold was seized by the officers who then told him that he would need to make an appearance at the GGMC if he wanted a chance to  reclaim his gold. The officers however, neglected to leave a claim form.

Patrick Harding, President of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), yesterday said that the seizure may have been illegal, although Filho was not in possession of a licence. He said that if the dredge was registered then all of the gold mined legally belongs to the dredge.

He also said that whenever officers make a seizure they are required to state why the seizure is being made and also to leave a claims form so that the target of the seizure can later apply to reclaim what was seized. Harding, who said that he was unaware of the event, said that the seizure was an illegal one if this protocol was not followed.

Meanwhile, Szala says that such treatment of Brazilian miners is very common. He said that in many instances they are exploited by police officers and even mechanics due to their lack of knowledge of the mining system and it procedures. He said that there are many instances where Brazilians are tricked into registering their equipment in the names of other persons who have a better grasp of the system.

Brazilian miners have become so accustomed to this and other kinds of exploitation, he says, that many of them go along with up to $4000 in their passports in anticipation of being made to make unnecessary payments.

Szala says that he has made a report of the incident to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and is expected to meet with ministry officials today.

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