Junior Natural Resources Minister Simona Broomes has said that as the ministry moves to put provisions in place to protect small miners, only those with under 10 blocks of land will be able to become members of mining syndicates.
Making a presentation on the syndicates on Wednesday before the parliamentary sectoral committee on Natural Resources, which is chaired by Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan, Broomes explained that the ministry is aware of the struggles of the small miners and in order to protect them it is making provisions to ensure that they are not eventually ousted by larger miners.
Broomes was responding to questions that were asked by member of the committee Odinga Lumumba, who enquired what were the requirements to join a syndicate and specifically whether an income analysis would be one of prerequisites. “My understanding is that the syndicate is to support small miners and the small people. If you’re a billionaire, you should be able to go on the open market and get your land, purchase land like anyone else, like one of the renowned gold and diamond manufacturers and producers. I believe that the syndicate will only make sense if it’s limited to small miners,” he explained, while pointing out that if the syndicates aren’t limited to small miners then there is a possibility that they could be eventually dominated by the same “large people that you are trying to protect the small miners against.”
In her response, Broomes said, “There is a difference between property and money. With the syndicates, one can only be a member if they have below 10 blocks… The point that you are raising, for them to be outrun or overruled by the larger miner, there are provisions in there for that and the syndicates are well aware. She pointed out that all of the syndicates that have been formed are comprised of “regular ordinary miners that have four inch dredge and all of that.”
Elaborating further, Broomes explained that every syndicate will have to produce a list of all the names of members and the equipment that they own. “The syndicate, as I mentioned, the syndicate would be established in every mining district. The ministry, we are out there sensitising miners that it is ‘your free will, we put forward the opportunity to form yourself, get your group together, get registered,’” she said, while stressing that the syndicates will have their elections to elect their executive body, which will preside over the functions.
Broomes emphasised that the syndicates were a response to a plight that the miners are facing since persons have their dredges and excavators parked. “What I can assure is that provisions are in place to ensure that the syndicates are not outrun or used as any machine or vehicle to get persons up. We have taken all of those things in consideration and that is why we have had so many consultations,” Broomes added.
Lumumba then followed up and asked whether the syndicates would be exempted from taxes, to which Broomes explained that at a meeting with the Ministry of Finance, the small miners put forward a request and Minister of Finance Winston Jordan said that once they come in groups they would be granted exemptions.
In her presentation to the committee, Broomes had also explained that the syndicates were not the only way small miners could get into mining since the lottery system was still being used. “That was there last year and of course those will continue but just to ensure we provide as much opportunities as possible we have to look at different initiatives and how we can bring the small miners together to pool resources and such things like that,” Broomes said.
She stressed that the syndicates would positively influence the economy and it would give the ministry a better system of being able to manage the small miners, which would have far and wide impacts.