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Trinidad experts arrive to check on mercury emissions at Gold Board after GGMC workers test positive

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 March 2018, 22:04 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Gold Board has hired experts from Trinidad and Tobago to confirm what the University of Guyana (UG) has already told that regulatory agency- that mercury emissions no longer pose a risk to people in the area, Gold Board Chairman, Gabriel Lall said Friday.

“We have moved very aggressively to address that problem. As I speak right now, somebody – one or two- who came in from Trinidad at 1:30 PM..should be at the Gold Board right now conducting all kinds of studies and tests etc so we are aware that there are some emissions there or there were,” he said.

Responding to a question by a miner at a meeting of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), Lall said UG Lecturer at the Faculty of Technology, Isidro Ubaldo Espinosa has already tested and assured that mercury emissions have been lowered to a level that is harmless to people in the surroundings. “We brought in somebody who lectures at UG who has given us a certification in writing  that our emissions are safe so we are bringing in another layer from outside- foreign people now- to come and check the thing… so everybody has a sense of security that the levels are safe and we are doing this business right,” Lall added.

Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Newell Dennison has already confirmed that 20 workers of his regulatory agency that shares the same compound with the Gold Board had high levels of mercury in their system.

Dennison has said the National Insurance Scheme has been informed, and that steps were being taken to import special pharmaceuticals that are not readily available locally to treat the affected workers. He did not see the immediate need to send any of the GGMC employees overseas for treatment.

The GGMC and the GGB have since jointly assured that several steps have been taken to drastically reduce mercury emissions by the Board to acceptable levels that would not affect workers.

Mercury absorption or inhalation could lead to range of health problems including kidney failure.

The high mercury levels in GGMC workers were detected through random tests and then, according to Dennison, authorities ascertained that the testing equipment at the Gold Board was not working properly.

The Gold Board Chairman assured that his entity does not use mercury, but merely burns the gold that is sold by miners. Mercury is used widely in Guyana’s gold mining industry. “Health is serious stuff. It’s not negotiable too,” he added.

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