Last Updated on Thursday, 10 August 2023, 13:24 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) on Thursday said there has been a drop in gold declarations from small and medium scale miners due to a shift of workers from mining to construction and oil and gas, depletion of reserves near roads and raiding of lands worsened by poor enforcement.
“Workers have been opting out of the sector to work on the coastland where competitive salaries mitigate the risk of interior work.
This unprecedented worker scarcity has seen the small and medium scale operators struggling to find workers as the industry bears the brunt of the labour shortage in Guyana,” the association said in a statement.
Figures show there has been a 15 percent drop in gold declaration from 188,955.94 ounces in June, 2022 to 159,083.87 ounces in June, 2022.
According to its calculation, currently, several mining outfits are operating at below 50% capacity while being burdened by significant increases in operational cost of services and supplies such as trucking, groceries, among others. Over the last three years, the associatio. said above normal rainfall and the subsequent flooding in mining areas has also caused a slide in production.
The GGDMA appealed to government to take firm steps to crack down on illegal mining which appeared to be a big concern for the organised mining sector. The association stopped short of accusing GGMC/Core of Warden officers of not taking decisive action against illegalities. “Legitimate operators feel helpless to stop raiding activities on lands legally held. Some GGMC/Core of Warden officers often frustrate the process; after reports are made, they act slowly, taking more steps to nitpick at infractions by the legitimate tenure holders while not taking the condign steps to stop the illegal operations. In many cases, the illegal operators, despite being given multiple cease work and removal orders do not comply and no enforcement activities are undertaken to remove such repeat offenders,” the GGDMA said.
In addition, the GGDMA said illegal operators are notorious for filing several false reports against legitimate operators, including claims about phantom shootings and displacement. “These false reports that are often received, distract the police from doing their job effectively by taking the necessary punitive steps against these illegal operators and end up turning the brunt of their efforts on legitimate operators due to these false reports,” according to the GGDMA.
The association noted that it is the illegal operators who rob the state of revenue and have an overall negative impact on gold declarations. The association said licensed traders and dealers are required to follow strict guidelines which includes requiring documentation that show the origin and ownership of the gold including the details about the concession from which the mineral was sourced.
In contrast, the GGDMA said illegal buyers and smugglers do not require documentation and have become the obvious outlet for raiders who steal and sell minerals and have no documentation or legal obligation to prove ownership.
The GGDMA is urging the Government to stamp down on the whole chain of illegality including illicit shops, illicit landings, illicit miners/raiders and on all illicit purchasers of gold. The GGDMA says it does not support these activities and calls on the government for immediate action. “Buying gold in Guyana is a privilege; any dealer/trader operating must comply fully with the requirements of their licenses and if they do not, they should no longer have that privilege,” the association added.
The Association called on the Government to match its public utterances with action and step up its efforts to stamp out any gold smuggling by persons or entities so engaged.
The GGDMA saya it is aware that mechanisms are in place to track, identify and prosecute the offenders and calls on the government to take the necessary action to remove the rogue elements in the industry. The GGDMA also says it remains steadfast in its call that miners must sell their gold to the Guyana Gold Board or licensed dealers.
The Association says it looks forward to the last quarter for a sector recovery and urges miners to increase production where possible.
According to the association, there is also the need to improve accessibility to minerals because many of the areas near to existing roads and infrastructure have been depleted and yields are low. “New infrastructure is now required to access new areas with high mineralization,” the association.
GGDMA appealed to small and medium scale gold miners to declare more gold with the hope of recovery during the last quarter of this year.