[www.inewsguyana.com] – Guyana’s natural resources are properly mined for the benefit of all Guyanese were the assurances given to Amerindian Leaders at the recently concluded National Toshaos Council Meeting by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud.
According to a GINA Bulletin, in addressing the issue of sustainable development of the country’s natural resources, Minister Persaud said that the Government values greatly, the role that Indigenous Leaders continue to play in ensuring that these resources are properly managed.
As it relates to mining in titled Amerindian Communities, the Minister emphasized that once an area has been demarcated and titled; the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) cannot, and will not issue any mining concessions or rights. The laws of Guyana give the owners of land the authority to make the decisions on the issue of small and medium scale mining.
Mining is very critical for many of the Amerindian communities; we have seen the transformation, development and prosperity that have come to Amerindian communities as a result of mining and we want to encourage it, but at the same time we want to ensure that it is done in a manner where the rights of everyone is respected and preserved, stated that Natural Resources and the Environment Minister.
Since the last NTC conference in 2012, a proposal was submitted for the establishment of a special mining permit for Amerindian communities. This would enable the Government, through the Natural Resources Ministry and its agencies to provide greater support to ensure safe and environmentally sound mining practices. Minister Persaud explained that when deaths, injuries or other mishaps occur at mining operations on privately owned Amerindian lands, the GGMC has no direct authority from a policing or enforcement standpoint, and reiterated his call for village leaders to consider the proposal.
He added that the intention is not to usurp or reduce the authority of the village council, but rather for us to provide a supportive mechanism to the communities in terms of carrying out responsible mining.
With regards to forestry, the Minister spoke of the request for more lands and extraction, and took the opportunity to remind all present that if these activities are done without the requisite permission, then people will be committing illegal logging, an offence that bears serious consequences. To acquire permission, he explained, the proposal has to be forwarded to the Amerindian Affairs Ministry, which will consult with the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the Natural Resources Ministry to decide on an agreement. He reiterated that like in the case of the mining sector, no logging concessions will be granted in titled areas.
Many village leaders requested maps indicating the locations of mining concessions. Minister Persaud assured that these can easily be made available in hard copies as well as electronically via the internet. While Amerindian leaders from Region Nine requested that the North Rupununi wetlands are given the status as a protected area. The Minister said that there were some discussions in this regard; however there is a procedure that must be followed whereby, a formal proposal is submitted so that it can be studied.
Additionally, leaders of Region Seven raised issues about unsafe mining practices that are polluting the Mazaruni River and farmlands and possible cases of illegal mining; while in Region One, leaders complained of miners damaging their road networks. (GINA)