[www.inewsguyana.com] – As is customary at this time, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, through the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission will be hosting its Mining Week activities which are aimed at celebrating the people in the mining sector, their culture and their achievements.
Mining Week celebrations commences on Saturday August 23 in Mahdia with a range of activities which includes a stakeholder forum where miners and residents can interact with the Ministry and the Commission and matters of interest can be addressed. The Ministry and the Minister “remains committed to engaging the various mining communities and residents to address their concerns and identify feasible and working solutions,” a statement from the Ministry said.
Outreach forums for communities will be held in Port Kaituma on August 27 and various other mining communities will be visited in the coming months.
The Government of Guyana, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission remain resolute in its commitment to the mining sector and to the community of Mahdia. “We are cognizant of the challenges and constraints facing the mining sector and every effort is being made to overcome these challenges,” the statement added.
However, continued success of the programs and measures being implemented, is hinged upon the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders working towards the common goal of developing and promoting the sector to its fullest potential.
Below is the detailed support of the Gov’t to Miners as stated in the release:
The Commission recently signed a contract for the sum of GYD$70.0 Million for the rehabilitation of the road from Brian Sucre Junction to Mahdia. This road works which has commenced, will be using new technology (material for mechanical stabilization of pavements) to ensure that value for money spent is achieved.
The Government and the Ministry are cognizant of the conditions of the internal roads of Mahdia and as such plans are to asphalt the roads given that monies have been expended on continuous rehabilitation. In this regard, a site visit and inspection for the paving of Mahdia internal roads will be done through the Ministry of Local Government. A preliminary estimate to asphalt the internal roads has been examined and the project is expected to commence in the last quarter of 2014.
The Ministry and the Commission will be providing financial assistance to desilt two (2) creeks, namely Boysie and Anna creeks, at a cost of GYD$2.5 Million. This is expected to reduce the overflow of the creeks and subsequent flooding that occurs and disrupts the lives of residents.
Financing will also be provided for the construction of a Water Treatment Facility for Mahdia at an estimated cost of GYD$80.0 Million. The importance and effect of a stable and potable water supply for Mahdia cannot be underscored and it is in this regard that funding is provided to Guyana Water Inc. to ensure that the facility is completed in a timely manner. The water treatment facility will include the construction of a 360 m3 capacity ground storage tank costing GYD$40 Million; the rehabilitation of source intake, desilting and sealing of existing porous channel at Salbora Creek at a cost of GYD$20 Million; and rehabilitation works on the water distribution system at an estimated cost of GYD$20 Million.
Given the calls of miners, the representation of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), and the fact that declaration levels are lower than expected, the Ministry and the Commission launched an auction and lottery to open new mining lands to the sector.
The auction was held during the week of the 11th-15th August, 2014 and the lottery on the 18th August, 2014 in Mahdia, Port Kaituma, Linden and Georgetown simultaneously. A total of 2,000 blocks of 1,200 acres each were identified for location via the lottery and auction, with 1,000 blocks placed in the lottery and 1,000 placed in the auction.
To ensure that the process for the lottery and auction was as transparent and equitable as possible, both were modified. Each of the 2,000 blocks were numbered from 1 to 2,000 and all even numbered blocks were placed on auction and odd numbered blocks allocated for lottery. This ensured that blocks with geological information would not only be restricted to auctions but rather these can be accessed by persons via lottery.
It is expected that another lottery and auction exercise will be held before the end of the year.
Land Reclamation Project
A Land Reclamation Project (LRP) funded by the Commission at a cost of GYD$500 Million has commenced and three sites were identified for a pilot project – Mahdia, Puruni, Konawaruk. These areas would be excised from mining activities and reclamation efforts will be undertaken.
The Project is aimed at returning disturbed land to a stable, productive and self-sustaining condition, taking into account potential beneficial uses of the site and surrounding land.
The general objective of the LRP is promote sustainable natural resources and environmental management by facilitating coordinated remedial land reclamation interventions, aimed towards managing and combating land and forest degradation from the activities within Guyana`s extractive
In addition to this new initiative, GGMC continues the maintenance of the rehabilitation sites at Mahdia at the St. Elizabeth Reclamation Project, Noitgedacht & Block #27, and the School Farm. This is in conjunction with a hydroponic garden using vegetable seedlings that was successfully cultivated. A public awareness demonstration for miners and the community on the successful hydroponic garden will be done during this year since this type of farming can be utilized by the mining sector due to its ease of duplication and low maintenance requirements.
Funding for Miners
The sum of GYD$1.0 Billion was approved by the Government as a revolving fund to assist small and medium scale miners to adopt the technology, processes and equipment that would enable miners to increase the rate of gold recovery and eliminate the use of mercury.
However, to ensure that adequate financial prudence and the requisite control mechanisms are in place, the Board of Directors have established a Working Group, tasked with researching viable alternatives to the use of mercury in the gold mining process, in addition to processes that will increase gold recoveries from its current low percentage.
The Working Group will be testing various technologies and processes in differing areas, to ascertain what type of equipment is best suited to the varying conditions of the interior. The results of these field tests will serve to inform the Commission as to what equipment/process/technology can be deployed in the various areas.
This is of critical importance to ensure that the financing facility being made available is prudently granted so that others can also benefit given that it is a revolving fund.
Reduction of Mining Costs
Given the high operational costs of miners and the fact that fuel is a main input of the production process, the Ministry facilitated the granting of a fuel importation licence for the GGDMA. Based on representations of the GGDMA, it is expected that fuel will be provided to miners at a lower cost, hence reducing the cost of production.
In addition, recommendations for waivers on matting were made to the Guyana Revenue Authority approval and this will directly impact on the cost of mining operations since matting would be sold by specific suppliers at a lower cost.
Government is also reviewing the recommendation for waivers for Double Cab Pickups for miners since this would promote efficient and safer travel. This is in addition to current tax waivers that already exist in the industry for spares and equipment such as All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV), Excavators, and Bulldozers etc.