Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes has recommended cease work orders against a stone quarry in the Mazaruni River and a sand pit operated by the regional authorities of Bartica.
The Department of Public Information (DPI) said that Broomes and a team from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) yesterday conducted impromptu inspections at quarry operations in Region Seven.
The Minister and GGMC staff visited BK International Quarry, Baracara Quarries Incorporated, Durban Quarries, Toolsie Persaud Limited’s St Mary Quarry in the Essequibo River and a sand pit in Five Mile, Potaro Road, Bartica.
DPI said that the most glaring instances of non-compliance in safety practices were seen at the Durban Quarries where the company failed to correct unsafe mining practices despite notices from the GGMC a month ago. The Minister informed Acting GGMC Mines Manager Krishna Ramdass to issue a cease order to the company.
Manager of the quarry, Ravie (only name given), said efforts were being made to comply with the order but had been held up by rains. DPI said that the quarry’s overburden needs to be cleared and there are signs that mining is occurring despite dangerously perched rocks on the facing.
“This is safety … is it because he [GGMC officer] was not forceful that there was no regard shown?” Broomes questioned the manager.
She urged the manager to consider that lives are at risk by working under such dangerous conditions. “You have to see it as if it is you under that facing or you’re the person in the machine,” Broomes noted before charging Ramdass to ensure that the GGMC follows due procedure to enforce compliance.
The other dangerous safety infraction was witnessed at the sand pit in Five Miles, Bartica. Men were shovelling sand from a sheer drop wall into the back of a truck even though there were signs of an unstable overburden. Broomes and the GGMC officers immediately ordered the men to stop working and the truck left the pit.
The sand pit is reportedly managed by the Bartica Town Council and had previously ignored cease work orders issued by the GGMC over the last three years, Broomes stated.
“What I’m seeing here is horrible,” Broomes said, according to DPI. “I know in the past no regards but I would want to say now and going forward we have to correct things. Safety, like any other mining … the rules go for all,” Broomes said.
The Minister voiced her displeasure at the regional authority’s disregard for GGMC’s regulations. She added that the Ministry and the GGMC will be engaging the Town Council to address the matter.
“The GGMC even recently trying to engage and meet with them to have engineers working with the Council so as to give guidance in terms of how you develop and continue to mine the sand that you are mining and also the loam,” Broomes said.
Meanwhile, at the Toolsie Persaud Limited (TPL) quarry, DPI said that one worker was observed hitching a ride in the loader of a heavy-duty machinery. Ground managers stated that there was no ground transportation for workers around the quarry.
“The people who operate these things they are the diamond between these rocks and you don’t fetch them in bulldozer buckets. I ask that the disregard for compliance with GGMC that we bring a turnaround. I want to work with you,” Broomes told TPL managers during her inspection.
Broomes said she will be meeting individually with the managers of the operations visited yesterday.
Broomes said that she will be inspecting quarry operations across the country. There are seven stone quarries and 14 sand and loam pits across Guyana.
Part of the reason to ensure compliance is to recover lost revenues to the GGMC through royalty payment by operators in the quarrying sector, Broomes stated.
Last year the GGMC collected $6.4M in royalties from stone quarries out of a calculated $14.7M. For sand, the GGMC collected $19.5M out of a calculated $25.9M.
“Transparency is the order of the day. We will work with companies, we will give incentives but you will comply. You have to comply it’s not a question,” is the charge to operators in the sector by Broomes.