Following grave concerns for the safety of workers and residents within the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission’s compound after recent incidents of elevated mercury emission in said compound, a team to review the operations of the company’s laboratory was recommended by Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman.
That team has now been appointed to examine and report on all aspects of the functionality of the Guyana Gold Board’s laboratory, and to make recommendations for its efficient, secure, and environmentally safe operations including, its relocation.
Headed by Dr David Singh, Executive Director of Conservation International, the appointed Committee which includes a retired Assistant Police Commissioner and members from both the GGMC and Gold Board, has been also tasked with examining a secure site for the relocation of the said laboratory.
They will commence work on April 18 and are expected to give a detailed report of their findings within a one month period.
An Air Quality Monitoring study which was conducted by Kaizen Environmental Service Limited showed that the mercury level in GGMC’s compound is in keeping with the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.
Despite their finding however, Minister Trotman made the recommendation for the lab to be reviewed by an expert team.
This decision was made by the Minister who voiced that the “health and safety of persons utilising the compound, primarily the workers, are of paramount importance”.
As such he proposed “an expert’s review for the functions of the Gold Board’s lab to see how it could be made to better function, where it should be situated, what scientific and other methodology should be used and deployed to ensure that safety comes first for both the workers in the lab and those who are around the lab”.
Mercury is used to purify gold from ore in a process called amalgamation. The laboratory is used to burn amalgam to rid the gold of mercury.
This process can be very dangerous and lead to significant mercury exposure and health risks.