Govt says working on solutions to small miners/Romanex dispute

The Ministry of Natural Resources is assuring the small miners of the Rupununi that their concerns raised in a recent letter about the ongoing dispute with Romanex Guyana Exploration Ltd. over mining activities in the Marudi Mountain area have been noted, and it is working assiduously to arrive at solutions.

The letter which was published in the last Sunday Stabroek under the caption `Small Rupununi miners are at breaking point’ referred to the ongoing dispute between Romanex  and the small miners of Rupununi, Mining District 6, who have (since) formed themselves into the Rupununi Mining Association, with regards to mining activities in Marudi Mountain.

According to the letter, “Romanex has acquired the rights for the concession for decades now but has not started any mining since the apparent abandonment…Romanex has promised them [the small miners] that if they move the landing to another location, they will allow the people to work. As such, with great effort, the landing was moved to a new location and up to this date Romanex has not allowed the people to recommence working.”  The letter acknowledged that “the small miners in the area started working two mountains that contain gold.”

According to a media release from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) on Tuesday, the Ministry was instrumental in the signing of a landmark mediation agreement in 2016 among the different parties – the miners of the Rupununi including the women miners, the Amerindian villages of the South Rupununi and Romanex, on whose property the miners operated. The agreement paved the way for mining to be able to continue once the environmental, safety and health issues stipulated were adhered to.

The MNR release added that the mediation agreement called on Romanex to conduct the necessary social and environment impact assessments with a view to integrating the Rupununi miners and the concerns of the indigenous communities. It also confirmed that of the 70 operators who were active when the mediation was signed, just 39 remain.

The Ministry in its statement pointed out that a number of blocks of land have been set aside for displaced miners, including women miners in an effort to ensure that their economic livelihood is preserved and asked the miners to continue to exercise patience as a solution is found.

At the last mediation conformity meeting on September 8, 2017, it was said that in the apportioning of available lands, preference will be given to those individuals who were cooperating with the conformity process, the MNR release stated. The Ministry will be engaging miners shortly to discuss and agree on a way forward, the statement concluded.

The letter from the Rupununi miners added, “…these people are really stretched out and they are at a breaking point now. The miners have decided that if they cannot get the appropriate approval from the government by the end of the week, they will go ahead and start back working, with or without approval!”

They added, “We have families, and we have to eat and … live. It is over two years now and we are holding up we side, but all we getting from the government is nuff sweet talk.” We are kindly seeking governmental intervention before the situation gets out of control.”

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