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Miners association claims govt ignoring concerns; meeting planned for next week

Just over one month after the new government took office, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) is taking the David Granger-led administration to task for doing little for the industry but a top presidential aide on Friday assured that the sector is not being disregarded in any way.

“This attitude seems to be held over from the previous administration, where several promises made to miners remain unfulfilled,” said the association in a statement, expressing dissatisfaction with the attention the government is paying to the industry. “The fact is that the mining industry remains in crisis,” said the association.

The GGDMA noted that meetings scheduled for June 4 and 10 were cancelled and later a letter was sent to Granger indicating the need for such a meeting with the subject Minister and representatives of the GGDMA.

However, Minister responsible for Governance and Patrimony in the Ministry of the Presidency, Raphael Trotman told Demerara Waves that the new government has every intention of meeting with the mining association, as early as next week to discuss their concerns. “Sincerely no offence was intended, but we are still rationalising the clear responsibilities under the Ministry of the Presidency.”

Trotman said as Minister of Governance he is assisting President David Granger in this area since his vision is for a “national patrimony” that would see among other things, the country’s natural wealth being developed and saved for this, and future generations.

He said that the government is aware of the issues affecting the miners, but believes the government needs to first, “be clear, with no confusion as to who does what.” He insisted that this must first be ironed out before they can engage the miners.

 Trotman also suggested that while it is not an excuse, persons must understand the short time since the President’s swearing in and realize that several other matters are being addressed at the same time. He is optimistic however, that next week will see a meeting between the mining representatives and government officials.

Arguing that the industry remains the leading contributor of foreign earnings, a major source of employment; the largest purchaser of machinery, spares, and supplies and an important player in the development of the hinterland and Guyana’s economy; the GGDMA listed a  series of issues that it wants the government to address.

These are the completion of the draft Investment Development Agreement (IDA) to include additional items of spares, incentives to the mining industry such as 50% reduction in rentals for small mining properties,  reduction in royalty, maintenance of hinterland roads and airstrips and the establishment of new roads for greater access to new mining lands, increased attention to public security within the hinterland noting the high incidences of crime and the stricter monitoring by the GGMC especially in the areas of safety and illegal mining activities.

The GGDMA said a number of the on-going challenges facing the gold and diamond mining sectors include falling gold prices, the improvement in gold recovery technology, high operation and maintenance costs, high fuel cost, high rentals for mineral properties, increasing prices for spares and machinery and limited available lands for serious and genuine miners.

The association also cited disparities in concessions between foreign-based and local miners, increasing violent crime in mining sector, slow processing of work permits for Brazilian miners and  largely impassable hinterland roads.