There are over 90 active mining properties operating in the Parish Peak area under the purview of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the National Mining Syndicate (NMS) stated yesterday.
In a press release in response to a Ministry of Natural Resources statement last week, which said that Parish Peak, located in the Upper Berbice was a restricted area, the NMS said it was in possession of information that completely contradicts that.
Calling the ministry’s statement “misguided”, the NMS said, “We find it disheartening to say the least that the Ministry of Natural Resources would in one breath say to the public that the area is ‘off-limits’ knowing fully well that mining continues to occur in the area. The past five years (perhaps longer), has seen active and unrestricted mining in the Parish Peak area.”
The NMS said that while it has a deep appreciation for the efforts being made by the administration to preserve the country’s biodiversity, it believes that a principled and fair decision must be taken to ensure that those who seek mining opportunities are treated equally.
The Ministry of Natural Resources had stated in its press release that it had observed that the Berbice Mining Syndicate had been speaking in the media about lack of access to the Parish Peak area, which was off-limits.
The ministry said that at a meeting on March 29, with various mining syndicates, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman had informed the head of the Berbice Mining Syndicate that there were environmental and forest certification considerations that had to be assessed before any decision could be made about accessing the area for mining purposes, and that in the interim, the area will remain off-limits.
It said the syndicates were reminded that not all land applied for or in which interest was shown, could and would be allocated, and that the President had appointed a Lands Commission to review and make recommendations on the use of interior lands.
According to the ministry’s release the area in question is a GGMC reserved area which had been held by Goldstone Resources Ltd in 1999. A Biodiversity Assessment Team Survey in 2014 had determined that the area was important for biodiversity as the Upper Berbice River region comprises pristine lowland forests containing diverse and abundant wildlife. The report had recommended stringent monitoring by the relevant regulatory agencies including the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the GGMC, along with the local residents and relevant communities, to ensure compliance with Guyana’s regulations and laws, and to prohibit unauthorized activities and regulate wildlife harvesting according to the 2013 Guyana Wildlife Management and Conservation regulations, the ministry’s release stated.
But the NMS said it found it “unfair” that the ministry would use the reasoning above to restrict the Berbice syndicate, yet allow others to acquire land to mine in the area.