By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The low Gold declaration by miners continue to attract the attention of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment; as such the ministry is working to provide support to miners to return to the 2013 level of output.
According to subject minister Robert Persuad, a number of factors have contributed to the reduced activities in some of the mining district which includes weather, gold price on the world market and the cost of production.
“We have been exploring ways in which further support can be provided so that we can see a ramp up or even a return to the 2013 levels of outputs and ultimately in terms of declaration,” Persaud told a press conference today, Friday, July 26.
He further noted that some of the concerns expressed by the mining community include availability of lands for all types of mining. In this regard the ministry is taking a proactive approach.
“We have concluded preparations and plans to launch auction…..we have lotteries for the six mining districts and these lotteries are scheduled for the 18th of August so these two important activities will see hundreds of individuals….who currently do not have access to their own properties.”
The ministry has taken another practical advance in processing mining permits and applications and this has seen an increase in the number of permits being processed for this year.
“Promoting our quest to have legal mining activities reducing the delays and reducing the reasons for person to be engaged in illegal mining activities and thus one denying the state of revenue, breaching our mining act and relevant regulation but also ensure that we environmentally sound mining”, the Minister said.
The Ministry has also stepped up its geological work to ensure that miners see their returns and are guided adequately so that they can gain returns upon investments.
Also on the card is improving hinterland infrastructure and better access to mining lands.
“The current rainy season has dampened the mining activities but also it has restricted access in some regards, some areas where you could have access by road you now have to use boat.”
This will attract a $ 1.5 Billion investment by government to ensure access to mining areas is easier and a number of roads have been identified for repairs in this regard. Minister Persaud also noted that they are working to ensure airstrips in the interior are adequately maintained all in an interest to provide better access for miners.
Meanwhile, the Minister spoke about the decrease in gold production so far for the year which has dipped by 16 percent when compared to last year. Last year gold production up to July was 278000,127 ounces; so far for this year production is at 233,000,305 ounces.
However, he expressed optimism that this will change as systems and improvements are being made to infrastructure that is needed. Additionally, a number of offices in different districts across the country will be reopened as they seek to optimize production and declaration.
The Bartica office will be reopened and so will the Charity and Port Kaitiuma offices, and will be operated by a private financial institution.
“Even as we build and streamline the Guyana gold board were also looking at the participation of the private financial sector in dealing with those particular issues.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Clinton Williams said new strategies are been adopted to confront the challenges with illegal mining.
“Were hoping that we can get some of the areas….the residents within the mining districts’ to help us because as you know it’s a very difficult thing to go in there and to take action like seizing a piece of equipment and to get it out it might be more costly”.
The ministry will use air surveillance and go pro cameras from the 28th August to monitor and reduce illegal mining which will be a continuous program. This is in addition to normal enforcement activities.
Additionally, Williams explained that the mining laws and regulations are being reviewed with stakeholders to ensure that stiffer penalties can be applied to persons in contravention.