Gold declaration on track to meet this year’s target

Gold declaration up to last week was 230,000 ounces for the first half of this year with miners on-track to meet their target of 460,000 ounces for 2013.

President of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) Patrick Harding made the disclosure at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting last Thursday. He, however, warned of a “crisis” as the price of gold dropped precipitously last week.

Yesterday, however, the price rallied. Reuters reported that gold started the third quarter on a strong footing to jump over 2 per cent yesterday as technical buying and speculative short covering offset concerns that the US Federal Reserve will rein in its stimulus program. Prices surged 2.2 per cent to a session peak of US$1,260.61 per ounce as speculative investors raced to cover shorts and some investors snapped up bullion at what they considered bargain prices. The market hit a near three-year low of $1,180.71 on Friday, the news service reported.

Executive Coordinator of the GGDMA, Colin Sparman told Stabroek News that with miners on track to meet their target, they are set to break the record for the most amount of gold declared in a single year here. He said the record was set when the large-scale mining company, Omai was still producing but this year local small and medium-scale miners can do it all on their own.

Meantime, Harding called on the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) board to confirm acting GGMC Commissioner Rickford Vieira to the post. “We need a commissioner who will give directions not only to the GGMC but also the industry,” he said. The GGDMA head pointed to what he described as sloth in the processing of documents for miners and said that hopefully with the confirmation of the commissioner, they can have someone to call on to enforce regulations.

Harding had urged miners to look at the way forward and had pointed to the falling prices, high fuel costs, and the need for enhanced recovery systems, exploration and reclamation as challenges for the industry. “We now have to figure our way forward,” he said. He had called for government’s assistance in slashing the duty on diesel as a way to assist the industry.

Meantime, the issue of mercury was also discussed and Sparman said that banning mercury before 2021 would threaten the financial stability of the industry. He informed the meeting that government is proposing that mercury be phased out in stages and the association is also working with other groups in seeking alternatives.

Harding urged the miners to look at alternatives and also urged them to examine ways in which they can reduce their operating cost as well as improve recovery methods. “Exploration now is very important,” he said adding that they could also be compelled to undertake reclamation and reforestation programmes.

Another issue that came under the spotlight was the lack of foreign currency from the Guyana Gold Board. Miners have the option of being paid in foreign currency when selling to the Board but Harding said that since last November, they have not been getting foreign currency. Despite speaking to the authorities about the issue, nothing is happening, he said, while calling on Minister of Natural Resources Robert Persaud to act.

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