-They were reportedly responsible for water pollution in the areas outlined
A visit to the Region 9 communities of Karasabai and Yurong Paru, and Monkey Mountain in Region 8 by a tripartite team comprising the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resulted in the shutting down of three illegal mining operations.
The visit between Monday February 20 to Wednesday 22, 2017, resulted from a directive issued by the Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman M.P., following a letter written to him by Bryan Allicock, Regional Chairman of Region 9 (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo) in early February, which raised the issue of alleged illegal mining activities which were reportedly responsible for water pollution in the outlined areas.
The team, which was led by the Compliance Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and included environmental officers from the GGMC and the EPA, found that the turbidity levels (the degree to which the water loses its transparency due to the presence of particulates) in the Echilibar River exceeded 30 ntu (Nephelometric Turbidity Unit), the recommended limit in the mining regulations. It was also determined by the officers on the ground that the turbidity levels were as a result of illegal mining operations.
It was found that those operations were ongoing without the requisite permission from the GGMC.
It was also determined that the persons working the operations were doing so after receiving verbal permission from a ranger employed by the claimholder – a violation of the GGMC’s regulations.
As a result, the GGMC said it issued Cease Work Orders to two operations in one location on the left bank of the Echilibar River and to one other operation farther inland. The mining activities were all taking place in the drainage basin of the Echilibar River, which discharges into the Ireng River that borders Brazil.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and the GGMC say are in receipt of information which suggests that many claim-holders are granting small miners verbal permission to work their claims without seeking the prior approval of the GGMC.
According to the Ministry and the GGMC, they will be taking strong action against such persons “many of whom are prominent miners”.