Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud on Monday rejected suggestions that he was playing politics with illegal miners in Marudi as the major reason why they have not be charged yet.
“The instructions and directions given is that wherever instances of illegal mining are taking place, the GGMC will have to do its job…I have never, as minister, has ever said go light on this area, try to capitalize, let’s play politics here,” he told a news conference. “That accusation is baseless.”
Legal Advisor, Rosemary Benjamin-Noble assured that paperwork is being prepared to charge those who were caught mining illegally in the south Rupununi gold bearing area. “Charges have not be filed as yet. There is a preparatory process that goes with putting together a case and that is currently train,” she said.
Benjamin-Noble stressed that the charges would be filed “in the coming weeks” against the alleged raiders only after all of the information has been acquired to prove case.
Authorities have a legal time frame of six months until September within which charges can be filed.
Concerns have been raised in some quarters that while Police Corporal, Nafaste Morris has been charged with four counts of assault allegedly committed on March 2, none of the illegal miners has been prosecuted. Persaud vowed that “we will not condone any lawlessness.”
With a countrywide National Mining Lottery scheduled for April 26, Persaud said the GGMC was seeking legal advice about whether those who were caught illegally mining would be allowed to vie for mining lands.
Benjamin-Noble said anyone caught mining illegally would be charged but she said research would be done to examine whether anyone caught raiding would be barred from participating in the lottery.
“The intention of the lottery is not to reward illegality or lawlessness…It is to bring some level of regularization and it is the transparent and open means by which persons can have access to land,” added Persaud.
Miners would be eligible to participate in the lottery if they reside in any of the six mining districts, own mining equipment and do not possess several mining lands.