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No decision on restart of mining at Chinese Landing but govt backs majority of residents

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 August 2023, 20:48 by Denis Chabrol

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday stressed that gold mining has been halted in Chinese Landing in the interest of the majority of residents there, but he could not say definitively whether the greenlight would be given for that activity to resume.

However, the Vice President could not immediately say whether government would approve the resumption of mining in that community that has so far been unsuccessful in winning court cases to curtail that economic activity. “I can’t say that now but at least now, it’s done. There is no mining, no pollution, harassing of anybody,” he said. Declining to elaborate, he remarked that there were mixed views about whether there should be mining at Chinese Landing.

“Some people want the mining and some don’t want the mining. A few believe that Vieira should continue; the majority believe he shouldn’t continue and so it’s a complex situation. One thing is sure that we are on the side of the village. We’ve always been from the time we went to court and we want to protect the villagers and their interests,” he said.

Government ordered an end to mining in that community ahead of a fact-finding mission to the community after the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights’ (IACHR) last month passed a resolution asking Guyana to take precautionary measures in the wake of ongoing allegations about alleged threats to Indigenous Caribs and pollution.

“As you know, all the mining activities are shut down now so that means there was a claim that a number of miners descended on the community and the miners were creating social problems and that there was a lot of environmental problems,” he said.

He told a news conference that “we fixed the problem at the source” and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has since conducted water quality tests in the area located in Region One (Barima-Waini). In an effort to verify the claims by the complainants, he said government officials sought to interview a number of persons, but they did not want to give statements and instead said the Vieira mining operation was the major problems.

After mining was halted, the Chinese Landing Village Council noted that such action on Mr. Vieira’s blocks “is not sufficient to protect our rights. “Whether or not they are mining, the miners are still present on the blocks, and they still carry weapons,” the council had said.

At the fact-finding mission, the council noted that the residents of Chinese Landing sent a clear message to the government team to protect village members’ rights to life and personal integrity, Wayne Vieira’s mining permits must be revoked, and the miners must be removed from the village’s lands. They said they also called for the implementation of the IACHR’s precautionary measures decision including removing the firearms of the miners and security guards on the blocks, stationing new police officers without ties to the miners in the village “until
our security in our lands is restored and speeding up the resolution of our court case.”

In days in the run-up to the fact-finding mission, the Chinese Landing village council had said that that council was not opposed to mining by Mr Wayne Vieira but wanted the outside miners on his concession to leave as they are the ones who are armed with high-powered guns and were posing a threat to them. “We have never asked the Government to stop all mining on our lands. We feel that we must clarify this, as we note that some of our villagers do small mining for their livelihoods, and we hope that the Government will not cut off our source of livelihood and further infringe upon our rights in its attempt to respect our rights.” the Council had said.

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August 2023