The miners association yesterday noted with deep concern the rise of the cost of the US dollar to approximately $212 and reemphasized its call for the Guyana Gold Board to make partial payments to miners in foreign currency.
Trading of the US$ for $212 would represent a significant deterioration as average rate has hovered around $205 for a number of years.
President of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), Patrick Harding said in a statement that several members called yesterday to express concern over the consequences of Guyana defaulting on the anti-money laundering bill and the “apparent sloth of the government to consider their request for foreign currency payments.”
The statement noted that many miners depend heavily on foreign currency to import parts, machinery and raw materials and are worried that an “apparent drought of currency will stall development of their mining operations.”
Concerns about the shortage of foreign exchange have been raised by other sections of the private sector in recent months but thus far there has been no word from the Minister of Finance or the Bank of Guyana on any interventions. Foreign currency flows from sugar have decreased significantly in the last two years and rice is being bartered as opposed to being sold for foreign currency.
The association, in its statement yesterday noted that in a recent meeting with President Donald Ramotar it repeated its call for the availability of foreign currency among several other issues.
“The GGDMA once again takes this opportunity to call for an urgent decision on the outstanding issues. While we are committed to reaching a national target of over 460,000 ounces we cannot do this without the resources, and these include essential machinery and spares that are bought overseas with foreign currency” Harding said.
He also contended that despite the drop in the price of gold on the world market miners have remained steadfast in their production.
On August 21, the miners association lobbied the government to allow miners to retain up to 50% of the value of gold they sell in foreign exchange.
A statement by the GGDMA following that meeting said that the foreign exchange facility had been in place for over 25 years and that miners were allowed up to a 100% facility on foreign exchange. It added that there was a change in November of 2011, when the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) advised miners that foreign exchange was not available. This had been the month of the 2011 general elections and events of this type usually precipitate capital flight and tightness in the market.