For years the two South American neighbours have been at loggerheads over ownership of the area to which Guyana has stronger legal claim and also occupies.
Natural Resouces Minister, Robert Persaud told the National Assembly Friday afternoon during the 2014 budget debate that recently, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett through the agency she heads, protested the issue. “We withdraw participation in an oil and gas conference which Suriname was proposing to hold in June and why we withdrew …..they were circulating the document and as part of the Suriname map…they have the New River Triangle”.
Persaud also highlighted last year’s incident in which the Venezuelan authorities seized a seismic vessel which was carrying out prospecting activity in Guyana’s waters. The Panama-flagged RV Teknik Perdana was acquiring a multi-beam geophysical survey in the Roraima concession block, in Guyana’s exclusive economic zone, for US-based Anadarko Petroleum. The Roraima block was awarded to Anadarko in June 2012.
Noting that prospects of oil and gas continues to be on the horizon, Persaud said that “unity” and “togetherness” is required on the issue. He said that a number of companies are working towards striking oil, noting that Exxon Mobil is in the process of making a key decision.
While addressing the House, Persaud also used the opportunity to highlight the performance and future plans of the various sectors which fall under the Natural Resources Ministry.
As regards the mining sector, he said that the “commitment is still there” noting that when miners are engaged , “it is about ensuring that we make maximum use”. He said the ministry continues to work with its global partners , operators and foreign governments “in terms of giving us support in order to have a comprehensive geological map”.
Noting that last year a GUY$1B programme was announced to assist gold mining industry in moving away from mercury us , discussions have been on going with the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) in order to have an arrangement financial institutions will be approached in terms of managing the facilities to ensure right technology is utilised in sector. He added that diversification of the sector is on-going as other earthen minerals are being identified. “The underlining objective of that and other efforts is for us to understand what we have “, said Persaud.
As regards the large=scale projects, he reported that Guyana goldfields expected that an year end the project is expected to be in high gear as much activity has started and US$200m has already been invested while 200 Guyanese are employed and more are expected to fill vacancies.
As regards the small miners, the sub sector has received much needed support from the government.
“The large and medium scale miners they will have an investment development and whereby they will be provided with programmes of various forms and will receive various concessions”, he added. He said too that small and medium scale miners via GGMC will see persons being qualified for ATV bikes, bulldozers and machinery as well as mercury free technology will qualify for exemptions.
“In fact if you look at last year concessions granted to small included those for operation of150 excavators , 6 tractors 190 ATV’s and a number of trucks”, Persuad added
On another note he said that, “the Finance Minister is assembling the appropriate regulations to ensure female miners are also recognised and according to Persaud , “we are looking in terms of having double cab pick-ups and even cars to be provided to our small miners”.
As regards the government’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) , discussions with the Kingdom of Norway are on-going . Guyana has received close to US$115M from Norway, he added.
He also addressed the state of the bauxite industry noting that the government has “resurrected the bauxite industry”.
According to him persons at communities in the Region 10 area such as at Ituni and Aroraima were feeling a sense of hopelessness when bauxite closed there. “We revived investment” he said “and rejuvenated the industry there”.
“The Guyanese bauxite industry continues to be one in which there is considerable expansion”, Persaud stated, adding that there is room for expansion resulting in job creations.