“We will give you a two-month period because we recognise that for years upon years there was not sufficient attention paid to this area because we want to work with you,” Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud told a large number of sand miners.
He assured that the ministry, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were not bent on creating difficulties for sand miners.
During the grace period, sand miners would be expected to put systems in place for the sound environmental management of their concessions. “We have seen that some of the sand mining activities are being carried out in a way that is being disruptive to the environment and persons are not doing what they are supposed to do at the end of the operations… we are putting these things in place, not to make life difficult for you, but to ensure that your activities are consistent with the laws of Guyana,” he added.
No date has been set for the payment of a total of GUY$132 million in outstanding royalties. Persaud noted that only about eight miners have gone to the GGMC to pay up their royalties. The royalty is calculated at GUY$15 per ton.
“We want to work with you, so if you have outstanding arrears…the approach we have taken is to accept whatever payment plan you have provided, we haven’t given you a deadline, but you have to recognise that we have an obligation to fulfill in this regard,” he said at the meeting held at Splashmins Resort.
The minister dismissed suggestions that sand miners supplying sand for government contracts are automatically entitled to royalty waivers. He said such waivers are granted administratively.
Persaud announced that that for the first time enforcement regulations related to the EPA Act are being drafted and the GGMC has been instructed to advertise for 25 additional officers to ramp up the monitoring of sand mines. Plans are being made to install weigh scales at Timehri and the Linden-Soesdyke Highway.
He expressed concern that a number of persons had successfully acquired land for agricultural purposes but later seek apply to the GGMC to engage in sand mining on the same concession.
Guyana last year exported 146,000 tons of silica sand.