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Miners Assoc; govt lock horns over gold hoarding accusations

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miner’s Association (GGDMA ) is disappointed by recent statements and threats emanating for the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and by notices published by the Guyana Gold Board which seem intent on criminalizing the entire mining industry.

Government has said that gold declaration has dropped by 20 percent based on calculations up to May 31, 2014 compared to the same period last year. Chairman of the Guyana Gold Board (GGB), Gobin Ganga has been quoted by the Government Information Agency (GINA) as saying that Guyana has lost about US$100M in foreign exchange and approximately $1.5B less in royalty and taxes. Ganga has said that the GGB was expecting between, 40,000 to 50,000 ounces of gold thus far for the year, but this has not materialised.

Supporting his claims of possible hoarding of the mineral, Ganga said, “If you are looking at the export earnings from this sector you would find that the foreign exchange is not there, if you would have mined gold and sold gold, you would have expected to foreign exchange to come back in, that is not there.” 

But the GGDMA said the Government and its various arms seem to be more intent on vilifying the industry rather than producing helpful solutions to help increase production. The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment has resuscitated an archaic piece of legislation and is using it to threaten legitimate miners and other stakeholders with jail times of up to 5 years for failing to sell gold within a specified period of time. The ministry has also accused miners of hoarding gold, a charge the Association strongly denies.

The GGDMA believes that the real problem lies in reduced production for the first half of 2014.

As a result the GGDMA has commissioned a study to investigate the reasons for lower production figures for the first half of 2014 with an intention to demonstrate that it is a reduction in production rather than deliberate low declarations. The results of this study the Associations says will be made publicly available once completed and should demonstrate beyond any doubt the real reason for the shortfall in the Government’s budgeted gold expectation. “Production and declaration must go hand in hand and miners cannot declare gold they have not won. Despite an earlier position that the gold declaration was below production miners have now seen documentation that proves contrary and hence the decision to conduct a more in depth study of production figures,” added the GGDMA.

The GGDMA says that while it empathizes with the government’s position of reduced revenue earnings, which are now below budgetary expectations, the miners cannot be made the “fall guys” for this situation. The Association has previously stressed to its membership the importance of declaration on the national economy and has been actively advocating for increased declarations. Meetings have been ongoing with the Ministry and it is shocking that these have resulted in the application of threats and coercion; this does not sit well with the industry. The Association maintains its position that gold remains the most important economic earner for Guyana and miners remain the country’s best hope for economic growth. The GGDMA however wishes to state, clearly, that any attempt to criminalize and bully legitimate mining operations cannot and will not be accepted, and calls on the government to offer solutions and incentives for increased production rather than threats.

In light of this controversy the Association is convening a special emergency meeting for all miners on Thursday June 26th 2014 to discuss the implications of the resuscitated measures and to determine a position on how the industry will move forward in this climate of criminalization. GGDMA is calling on ALL miners to attend this meeting which will be held at the Association’s headquarters at lot 29 North Road Bourda.