[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miner’s Association (GGDMA) is refuting what it describes as recent erroneous utterances in the press in relation to the legal mining operations in the Mazaruni River, in an area downstream from the Isseneru Village.
A press statement from the GGDMA noted that it supports all legal mining operations and will continue to do so but “Miners must not be bullied by greedy village councils.”
It was noted that there is the misconception that the mining operation was issued a cease-order by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment but according to GGDMA, this is not true.
“The Miner, who has been operating in the area legally and uninterrupted for several years, volunteered to reduce his operations to allow for an impartial inspection to be carried out by the GGMC. This was done. No fault was found. The miner was cleared of all accusations of impropriety and he was allowed to resume his operations,” the GGDMA clarified.
According to the association, the Miner has donated to the Isseneru Village council over 32 ounces of gold since he began working downstream from the village earlier this year.
“This was after a discussion with the council and a demand for payment of a 12% tribute. Despite not having any legal right to collect such tribute. What has not yet been communicated to the public, is the fact that the village and the miner also had a previous arrangement where he was granted permission to operate the same river dredge on village lands (in the village buffer zone) in exchange for a 12% tribute. This deal was negotiated and put in place by the village council which collected the tribute.”
It was noted that the GGMC subsequently stopped this arrangement as it is illegal to mine in the buffer zone.
“The current/new arrangement for the tribute for the river dredge was an additional agreement based more on previous partnerships rather than in a legal right to demand tribute for lands which are not within the village’s title.”
According to the release, the GGDMA recognizes that the council is not entitled to collect tribute for lands that are not within their boundaries, and the Mazaruni River is not part of any village’s land.
“Permission to operate in this river is the sole jurisdiction of the state and its agent the GGMC. One would have expected that this would have been made clear by the ruling in October this year by the Honourable Chief Justice. That matter involved a similar issue with Jawalla village and it was ruled “that by virtue of Section 22 (2) (a) of the Amerindian Act 1953, which was applicable in 1991 when the plaintiff applicant received title, ‘the rivers and all lands sixty-six feet landwards from the mean low water marks’ were exempted from the title of the village.”
“The Association wishes to restate that the Miner is within his legal right, a right he pays for, to operate a legitimate, certified and regularly inspected operation. As recent as Wednesday 24th of November 2015, the dragga (river dredge) was inspected by officials of the GGMC and given the all clear, no violation was found.”
The GGDMA noted that miners cannot be subject to arbitrary double tribute systems and the whims of greedy village councils who have no right to bully and intimidate legitimate operators.
“The GGDMA condemns this sort of bullyism and calls on the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment and Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to recognize that this is not a “helpless” village council, rather it is a council that has mislead them about the facts. While it is within the village’s purview to object to any operation that endangers their village, this clause is being used in an ad hoc manner, even where there are no credible threats, as coercion to bully miners into paying tribute or other donations.”
The Association explained that other erroneous claims made by the council is that the dragga was mining in lands near the school and health centre and upstream from the village, but these are all fabrications.
“The dragga has been mining downstream, and unless the village is subject to special laws of nature the water will not reverse its flow upstream. The truth can be verified by the GGMC and from the report of the investigative team.”