-Gold Board temporarily halts purchase of sponge gold
“We said to the gold dealers that they will now be required to have an environmental permit issued by the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] on a yearly basis if they are going to be licenced by the gold board to be dealers.”
Those were the words of Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman on Friday as he visited the Guyana Gold Board’s (GGB) new facility located at Crown Street.
Moreover, the GGB has announced it will not be purchasing sponge gold until it completes testing of new mercury control equipment.
General Manager, Eondrene Thompson, told Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman the GGB had published this decision in the media.
“We’re only purchasing smelted gold because the system is not fully tested and they are still working on that,” Thompson explained. The Gold Board has procured a new mercury control equipment that will break down mercury emission during the burning process.
The equipment, which is valued in excess of $18M, is being installed by ACTLABS. General Manager, Kevin Gomez, explained the equipment has a three-tiered system that breaks down mercury emission.
The mercury will first pass through a condensation unit, then scrubbed through another system before being cooled and passed through an activated carbon checkpoint. It will finally be released into the atmosphere, Gomez explained.
He assured, any mercury that is released after processing would be way below the admissible level of 50,000 nanograms. The new facility has met approval by a Pan American Health Organisation / World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) team which had assessed the Brickdam complex.
In April, the GGB had to cease burning gold at the Brickdam complex following health and safety concerns.
Minister Trotman said his ministry will continue to work with miners who use mercury in their operations. The government is also exploring issuing permits to dealers burning gold.
According to a DPI release, the government is working to reduce the dependence on mercury in gold mining. The Ministry of Natural Resources in celebration with Conservation International Guyana, World Wildlife Fund and the United Nations are working with miners to find a more viable alternative to mercury.
Gold Board Chairman Gabriel Lall, said the Board will overcompensate to ensure burning practices are safe and healthy for the surrounding environment and those using the facility.