The Government on Wednesday evening announced that all mining operations at Chinese Landing, Region One (Barima-Waini) have been temporarily halted.
The Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Ministry has said that in response to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) precautionary measures issued to Guyana on July 21, 2023, the Government has taken a decision to stop all mining in Chinese Landing temporarily to allow for a more conducive environment to address the concerns of the community and all concerned.
This, according to the Ministry, comes in response to the claims contained in the IACHR resolution including that community members “felt unsafe even passing through the concessions to the other side to farm, hunt and fish, and to visit our families”. This concern was also reiterated in correspondence to Minister Teixeira dated July 29, 2023 in which Toshao Orin Fernandes stated that steps that require immediate attention included “mining activity must stop”. This decision, the Government said on Wednesday, is as a direct result of the ongoing communication between the Government of Guyana through the Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister and the Chinese Landing Village Council through Toshao Fernandes.
“It should be noted that an initial request for the planned fact-finding mission to be accommodated was sent to Toshao Fernandes on July 28. A response was received dated July 29 in which the Toshao explained that “while we appreciate your quick reaction and proposal…the Village Council requires slightly more time to confer with the village on the appropriate measures”. August 2/3 was identified by the Toshao as a more favourable time. In addition, the Toshao also highlighted four measures which in the Council’s opinion required the Government’s immediate intervention – among which was the halting of all mining activity. The Toshao also indicated in this correspondence that it was “not clear” what the purpose of the fact-finding mission is,” the Ministry said in its statement on Wednesday evening.
The Government then dispatched another correspondence on July 31, 2023 to the Toshao, responding to all questions and concerns and making clear the Government’s approach. It was reiterated that the fact-finding mission was being implanted to effectively implement requests from the IACHR for the Government of Guyana to “report on the actions taken to investigate the events that led up to the adoption of [the] precautionary measure, so as to prevent such events from happening again”.
According to the Ministry, the Toshao was reminded that the outstanding issues identified by the IACHR as prompted by the community’s May 22, 2023 submission were only seen for the first time by Government when it received the IACHR resolution, and as such, those claims would need to be investigated as they include further allegations about health, environment pollution and outstanding investigations with regard to harassment, intimidation, and personal integrity.
The Ministry said that in the July 31, 2023 correspondence, the Government also indicated that it would comply with the request of the Village Council to stop all mining in the village.
To implement this, a team from the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission will be deployed to put this decision into effect and to ensure that there is a peaceful cessation to all mining. As such, a request was made for the fact-finding mission to be shifted to August 5-6, 2023 to allow for the measures to be properly implemented.
The Government on Wednesday evening expressed its appreciation for the continued communication between the Toshao, Village Council and the Government, even in the face of inevitable differences. In the space of only five days, it noted that there has been a total of four pieces of correspondence between the parties, and the Village Council has clearly indicated its resolution to collaborate with Government in the best interest of the community of Chinese Landing.
The Government said that it welcomed the efforts made by the Chinese Landing Village Council and commits to continue working directly with the beneficiaries (the people of Chinese Landing) and their elected representatives (Toshao Orin Fernandes and the Village Council).