Following months of upheaval over mercury emissions, the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) is aiming to resume normal operations tomorrow at its new location in Queenstown, Chairman GHK Lall says.
An advertisement in yesterday’s edition of Stabroek News from the GGB titled ‘Notice of Relocation’ informed all gold miners, licenced dealers and the general public that they will be relocating from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) compound on Upper Brickdam to Lot 133 Crown and Albert streets, Queenstown, effective from tomorrow.
“The Board and Management of the Guyana Gold Board wish to express our gratitude for your patience during our period of transition and look forward to offering you a more efficient service from our new location. Our telephone numbers are 225-3148 and 225-3139. Our email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.,” the ad said.
Lall said yesterday that while construction is still ongoing at their new location, they are hoping to have everything ready by tomorrow to resume operations.
He also noted that they have a brand new mercury processing system that they are in the process of setting up.
Lall explained that officials from the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and local officials checked the new system and “liked what they saw” but have made additional recommendations on how to enhance the process.
Burning of gold and operations were stopped at the previous location on Brickdam in April after mounting pressure from GGMC workers who boycotted work after some tests showed that there was a high level of mercury emission around the compound.
The GGB subsequently ceased its operations and Kaizen Environmental Services was contracted to test the environment and declared that it was safe. However, the GGMC’s Environmental Department carried out further tests that showed there were still high levels of emissions in certain areas.
The situation was compounded further by the deaths of four GGMC workers within the last six months which were suspected to be related to the mercury emissions.
As a result, Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence and Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman announced that they had invited two teams from PAHO to assist with ascertaining the safety of the area. The second team that is expected to arrive shortly will look at the various aspects of dealing with mercury emissions, including the protocols and standards.
The first PAHO team finished their assessment last week and declared that the mercury emissions at the compound were at a safe level.
The Ministry of Social Protection has also partnered with the GGMC to address measures and concerns surrounding the incident.
An inter-agency committee comprising the Department of Occupational Safety and Health of the Ministry of Social Protection along with the National Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH), and the GGMC, along with representative staff has been formed.
The committee will also work along with the PAHO teams and will undertake a number of critical assignments, including making recommendations on best practices. They will also analyse the data and provide the government with periodic updates which will lay a path for the way forward.