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Gold Board predicts reduced gold declaration due to COVID-19 shutdown in Aranka, Moruca

by Samuel Sukhnandan

The Guyana Gold Board (GGB) says it foresees annual gold declaration being negatively impacted if the recent  government shutdown of mining in Aranka/Arangoy (Region Seven) and Moruca (Region One) is extended.

The shutdown in those areas took effect from July 3 and is expected to last until July 16.  The decision was taken given the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in interior villages.

GGB General Manager Eondrene Thompson told News Talk Radio/ Demerara Waves Online News on Wednesday that Aranka belongs to mining district two where a sizable quantity of gold is produced each year that forms part of the annual declaration.

“Indeed it will have an impact. However, the severity of the impact…well we won’t be able to say right now,” she stated,  explaining also that miners there are already being adversely affected by the current weather patterns.

The GGB recorded that  634,905 ounces of the precious yellow metal were declared in 2019

Thompson said miners in Region One are also faced with issues related to the construction and repair of the  Mabaruma airstrip. Many miners have complained that they are not able to get food and other supplies.

Meanwhile, Manager of the Bartica branch of GGB Holbert Knights agrees that the shutdown will have some impact on gold declaration, explaining too that Aranka is a popular area for gold mining.  “But in terms of the significance I don’t think it will be that significant because we have other mining areas such as: Puruni,  Mazaruni river, Middle Mazaruni Issano and Kopinang, and the rest.”

According to both GGB officials, there is no set production/declaration target per mining district to determine losses  based on a previous year’s figure. The Ministry of Natural Resources sets a general annual declaration target.

News Talk Radio also spoke with the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) which said it is less likely that the shutdown would have any severe negative impact on annual gold production.

“I don’t see it having a severe impact on the production in the area. However, it is a good thing that the Ministry  (Public Health) is doing it, in order to sensitize miners of how serious coronavirus is and that it could have serious  long term implications on the industry…I think it’s a good thing and we endorse it,” GGDMA President Andron Alphonso said.

The GGDMA official is of the view that there will be limited impact on Aranka especially since the lockdown covers some 10 square mile radius around the landing. On the other hand, Alphonso said the association has not received  any reports that it is affecting Moruca. “We don’t know that there is too much mining taking place in the Moruca area,” he explained.

Although the lockdown has been enforced, the GGDMA said it still has concerns that bars are still operating in those areas.  The association is calling for the police and other officials to ensure that even if certain businesses have to remain open,  then they should operate within the guidelines set out by the Public Health Ministry.

He said,”If people are selling different things, they should have people who are coming into the area, ensure that people  wear masks, and that there is good social distancing…let the patrons come into the shops and stores at these landings,  purchase their items and leave.There shouldn’t be lingering and spending time at the landings.”

A medical team was dispatched by the Public Health Ministry over the weekend to conduct mass testing on residents in these  areas, particularly in Region One. As a result, seven persons were tested positive for COVID-19, moving the number of known  cases in Guyana to 284.