High Court rules that gold miner, GGMC trespassed on Amerindian lands

Last Updated on Monday, 6 February 2023, 7:29 by Denis Chabrol


The High Court has blocked a mining company and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) from mining or permitting mining respectively in village lands at Jawalla, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and awarded damages for trespass against the mining company and the regulatory agency.

The Jawalla Village Council said Justice Sandil Kissoon awarded the Jawalla Village Council GY$10 million for trespass to the village lands and GY$10 million against James Krawowsky, Timna Mining Company and Guyana Inc and GGMC for jointly breaching the Amerindian Act.

While the State is entitled to subsurface rights, the Amerindian Act requires permission to be granted before extraction could take place.

Justice Kissoon further granted a permanent injunction against James Krawowsky, Timna Mining and GGMC from mining and/ or permitting mining on the village lands.

The Council states that costs were awarded in its favour in the sum of one million dollars. Jawalla is an Akawaio community on the Mazaruni River.

The judgment stemmed from mining permission granted by the GGMC to James Kwakowsky and Timna Mining to conduct mining activities in the Mazaruni river which passes through the Jawalla Village lands.

“Despite several requests from the Jawalla Village Council for the miners and GGMC to desist from mining or granting permission to mine within their village lands, the GGMC and the miner ignored the several demands and continued to grant permission to mine within the
Village lands,” the Council said.

The Jawalla Village Council was represented by Attorney-at-Law Jed Vasconcellos of Hughes Fields and Stoby law firm and and the defendants were represented by Attorney-at-Law Roysdale Forde.

Eight years ago, the Jawalla Village Council had lost a similar case after the Full Court comprising of Justices Ian Chang and Rishi Persaud had found that the Mazaruni River is not part of Jawalla’s village lands as that waterway appears to pass along rather than through the village. The Full Court had also stated that the Village Council neither owns nor controls the Mazaruni River. In that case, the Village Council had said that their major source of water had been polluted severely.