EPA to step up monitoring of gold mining

-under $176M project

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will heighten its monitoring of mining, as part of a $176 million project aimed at strengthening monitoring and implementation of biodiversity-friendly practices in Guyana’s gold mining sector.

The EPA has traditionally taken a backseat to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) as it relates to monitoring of mining operations and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations. The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, in a statement, said that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) on June 5th, approved the use of Guyana’s remaining GEF-STAR 5 allocation (US$880,000, or approximately $176 million) for the execution of a medium-sized project entitled, “Enhancing Biodiversity Protection through Strengthened Monitoring, Enforcement and Uptake of Environmental Regulations in Guyana’s Gold Mining Sector.”

During the current GEF-5 replenishment period, which runs from July, 2010 to June, 2014, Guyana received US$6.3 million for projects, with US$3.2 million for biodiversity, US$2 million for climate change and US$1.1 million in the land degradation arena. US$5.5 million was utilised with US$880,000 remaining. The ministry said that Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud at the 5th Assembly of the GEF in Cancun, Mexico last May took the opportunity to discuss the environmental challenges in Guyana within the context of sustainable development and other international development goals. The statement did not say but it appeared that Persaud made the request for the remaining money to fund the project.

“The project’s objective is to strengthen monitoring and implementation of biodiversity-friendly practices in Guyana’s gold mining sector so as to reduce biodiversity loss and maintain ecosystem functionality,” the statement said. It added that this will be achieved by strengthening EPA’s role in oversight of mining practices, enhancing inter-institutional cooperation, increasing satellite tracking of mining activities and building capacity of field officers in monitoring and enforcement and biodiversity issues. “The project will also integrate biodiversity in vocational training programmes for mining and provide user-friendly material and seminars to enable miners to understand the regulatory framework in place and best practices to improve biodiversity conservation in the gold mining sector,” the ministry said.

The project will run for three years and will be implemented through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and executed by the EPA with guidance from a multi-stakeholder Project Steering Committee.

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