Mining School forum targets fewer accidents

Messy and dangerous: An interior mining operation

Significantly enhancing the overall levels of safety in Guyana’s mining sector continues to be a key focus of the Guyana Mining School and Training Centre Inc.

The entity’s August 25th Mini Mining Symposium and agenda of the Centre’s Mine Safety Awareness Day staged in the key mining region of Mahdia underscored, what its Administrator/Coordinator John Applewhite-Hercules told Stabroek Business was an agenda that is focused fixedly on significantly reducing environmental degradation in mining areas while seeking to raise safety awareness amongst miners with a view to lowering the level on mining-related accidents.

Applewhite-Hercules told Stabroek Business that the event held ahead of the promulgation of the Government of Guyana’s Ten-year Action Plan and Mining Policy for the sector, sought to utilize exhibitions, demonstrations and interactive discourses on issues of critical day-to-day relevance to working miners, including safe use of mercury, storage and handling, effluent management, tailings management, waste disposal and contingency and emergency response plans.

“For many miners this would not have been their first exposure to this kind of sensitization, but in matters as critical as safety and responsible environmental practices it does not harm to be repetitive,” Applewhite-Hercules said.

According to the Mining School Head, the importance of the exercise was reflected in the wide range of state and non-state institutions which partnered with the School in the initiative.  He listed the Guyana Women Miners Association, the Department of Occupational Safety and Health in the Ministry of Social Protection, the Department of Environment in the Ministry of the Presidency, Conservation International Guyana, World Wildlife Fund and the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade.

“The importance of the mission dictates that we develop partnerships with state and non-state institutions whose missions coincide with ours,” Applewhite-Hercules told Stabroek Business.

According to Applewhite-Hercules, participation in the event by Stakeholders Management Coordinator in the Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of the Environment, Aretha Forde allowed for a briefing on the Guyana Green State Development Strategy (GSDS).

“We consider the nexus between the GSDS and the mining sector to be sufficiently important to have a further consultation on the issue at Mahdia on September 4,” Applewhite-Hercules disclosed. Instructions in the use of the GPS, mine safety and Codes of Practice for Environmental Management formed part of the programme.

 According to Applewhite-Hercules, a critical part of the Mahdia event was an engagement exercise which allowed for the ventilation of important issues affecting miners and the mining community as a whole, in a session led by Consultant Sherwood Lowe. Applewhite-Hercules said, meanwhile, the National Minerals Sector Action Plan will identify the work activities linked to the implementation of the policy framework for the mining sector for the period 2019-2029.

The Mahdia forum also afforded an opportunity for miners to be briefed on the Conservation International-driven $1.2 billion El Dorado Gold Project, which will engage artisanal and small-scale miners in Regions Eight and Nine to help realize the goal of mercury-free mining by 2025, along the entire supply chain, from prospectors to producers.

The first symposium of this kind was staged on June 21 and 22 last, at the Cara Lodge in Georgetown, in partnership with the Australian High Commission. Both events were staged under the theme “Towards a green development strategy within the mining sector, ensuring decent work environment for Artisanal, Small and Medium-Scale       miners.”

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