The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) says it is dissatisfied with the attention given to the mining industry by the new government.
In a statement yesterday it cited two cancelled meetings which had been set with the APNU+AFC government.
The miners association had had a rocky relationship with the former PPP/C government over the 18 months prior to the May 11, 2015 general elections. The deteriorating relationship had come at the same that gold prices had fallen and when a significant number of miners had decamped from the industry because it was no longer lucrative.
In the statement yesterday, the GGDMA said that the industry remains the leading contributor of foreign earnings; a major source of employment; the largest buyer of machinery, spares, and supplies; and plays a vital role in the development of the hinterland and the economy.
It said that the attitude of the new government seems to have extended from the previous administration, where several promises made to miners remain unfulfilled.
The GGDMA said that to date two scheduled meetings (June 4 and June 10) were cancelled. As a result, a letter was sent to President David Granger expressing the need for a meeting between the subject Minister and representatives of the GGDMA.
The new government has not provided many details on how the natural resources sector will be handled. It recently said that Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman will also be tasked with “oversight of the management of the nation’s natural resources which form part of the patrimony of Guyana.”
Stating that the mining industry remains in crisis, the GGDMA listed various areas that it would like addressed.
It said that it wanted the draft Investment Development Agreement to include additional items of spares, etc. It also wants incentives to the mining industry such as a 50% reduction in rentals for small mining properties and a reduction in the royalty rate. The miners body is also pressing for maintenance of hinterland roads and airstrips and the building of new roads for greater access to new mining lands.
It also wants beefed up attention to public security within the hinterland, pointing to the high incidence of crime. It is also calling for stricter monitoring by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission especially in the areas of safety and illegal mining activities.
The miners association listed other issues including:
Falling gold prices
The need for improvement in gold recovery technology
High operation and maintenance costs
Fuel costs remaining high
High rentals for mineral properties
Increasing prices for spares and machinery
Limited available lands for serious and genuine miners
Disparities in concessions between foreign-based and local miners
Slow processing of work permits for Brazilian miners
One sign of the distress in the industry has been the continually declining level of gold declarations.
At the end of December last year, gold declaration had dropped by 22.61% compared to the same period in 2013. Declarations are also down for this year.