Amerindian rights and security will not be compromised – NRE Minister

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Subsequent to representation from residents of Baramita, Region One, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment [NRE] and related agencies held a consultation with the Baramita Village Council, residents and a UK-based Russian company which has interest in gold mining within and around Baramita.

Min. Persaud looking at a map showing the locations in central Baramita where applications have been made for Prospecting Licences
Min. Persaud looking at a map showing the locations in central Baramita where applications have been made for Prospecting Licences

The team headed by the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud and included representatives from the Ministries of Amerindian Affairs, and Human Services along with technical officers of the natural resources and environmental sectors met with the Region One Chairman, Mr. Paul Pierre and the Baramita Village councillors led by Toshao Johnny Bradley and Attorney David James.

The consultation was facilitated to ensure the mining sector’s development is done in sync with the rights and expectations of indigenous communities.

The Natural Resources and the Environment Minister in his remarks emphasised on the rights of Amerindian titled lands, and pointed out that the government is supportive of the development of Guyana’s natural resources, but will not compromise the rights and security of Amerindians.

“Government will not allow foreigners or locals to infringe on the rights of Amerindians, and will not allow respect for Amerindians to be compromised”, said Minister Persaud.

He noted that government will continue to encourage all miners to respect the rights of Amerindians and their titled lands be safeguarded from any potential negative environmental impacts.

He stated that in the extractive sector, government will not encourage companies and individuals in mining or forestry to violate the rights of Amerindians. This, he pointed out, will cause conflict within the Natural Resources Sectors which will be unhelpful for the economic development of Guyana.

Further, the Natural Resources and the Environment Minister called on all miners and mining companies to honour their obligations to contribute to the development of the community, to support through their contributions to improve social, health and economic development of Amerindian communities.

The objective of the consultation was to deal specifically with the issuance of Prospecting Licences (PLs). It was villagers and other relevant stakeholders who supported the first agreement of four PLs, but disagreed on the proposed application for two PLs in central Baramita.

Acting on consensus, Minister Persaud advised that no further action will be taken in processing the new applications for the two PLs.

A Prospecting Licence is for three years, with two rights of renewal of one year each. The licence is approval for exploration work exclusively and no mining is allowed within any PL.