Over the past years, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) has moved from an organisation on its way to ISO certification under the stewardship of Commissioner William Woolford, to now being one with much administrative hurdles to project implementation under its current leadership. In its current form, the 400 staff of the GGMC are manned by a commissioner at the helm, supported by a deputy and nine managers, viz, Geological, Petroleum, Special Projects, Audit, Finance, Mines, IT, Land Management and Human Resources.
Interesting to note is that the Mines Manager is responsible for almost half of the entire staff complement, while the responsibility for the rest of the staff body is left up to the other eight managers. In some instances, managers are managing less than 12 staff.
For the purpose of being brief, I would like to touch on the management of the two largest departments of the GGMC to give an unbiased appraisal, these being the Geological and the Mines departments.
The Geological Services, with the second highest complement of staff, which amounts to 1/3 of that of Mines, has been rapidly advancing projects over the past few years under the stewardship of the visionary manager, who, with hindsight, upgraded the labs, made available workspaces to adequately accommodate staff, provided opportunities to every technical staff to attend overseas workshops aimed at developing knowledge, recruited specialists to train the staff and help to better interpret Guyana’s geological landscape.
This Geological Manager has been the subject of criticism, mainly from his lazy subordinates that have incomplete projects since 2015. On the contrary, praises are pouring in by visitors and consultants about the many improvements made under his stewardship. Commendable also is the quarterly project updates presentation, of which several stakeholders in the mining fields are afforded the opportunity to attend.
The Mines Department has technical, inspectorate and clerical arms, which work harmoniously to ensure the mining fields are safe, profitable and legally compliant.
On the point of safety, the last seven months have seen, on average, two deaths per month due to pit cave-ins and a check would reveal that engineers that ought to be monitoring these pits were left in the office awaiting approval of estimates already budgeted and have been given a policy directive to undertake research work in the office.
On the point of profitability, the research arm of the Mines Department, the Mineral Processing Unit, which aims towards phasing out mercury and improving mineral recovery, has not seen a circuit demonstration nor a technical assistance programme in over a year for the same preceding reason. The manager has opined that “he feels the project will not benefit the miners”. Needless to say, this manager has not proposed alternatives nor provided the guidance to staff members to articulate a project acceptable to him.
On the point of legal compliance, the budgets of the mining stations have been cut by the Mines Manager, which has resulted in officers having to travel back to HQ to request additional funding, which takes up to three weeks before disbursement due to sloth in approval, thus breeding a situation that allows for illegal mining and lax monitoring. Mining claims dispute resolutions take greater periods of time due to the unwillingness of the Mines Manager to meet with complainants.
The Mines Department, being the largest, sees only one staff attending conferences such as PDAC, whilst in the Geological Department, at least seven staff members attend.
On closing, important to note also is that senior staff on the verge of retiring identify themselves to attend conferences and fail to groom successors to build upon the strides made, creating a retrogressive atmosphere when they demit office.
While there are talks about restructuring, a simple change of the gatekeepers would only serve to maintain the status quo without altering the organisational structure to suit a more specialist type organisation.
(Name and address supplied)