Newly-elected president of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners’ Association (GGDMA) Andron Alphonso has called for unity in the industry to project a single front to promote mining interests in Guyana.
He made the call on Wednesday at the GGDMA’s Annual General Meeting where he was elected unopposed to succeed Terrence Adams as president.
Noting that he needed to meet with the new executive to chart the way forward, Alphonso nevertheless outlined a number of areas he said he would be putting to the body.
This included a continuation of the fight to ensure that policies detrimental to the industry were not adopted.
“As your new president I will continue to fight tooth and nail to ensure that there’s no policy or any agendas that will result in the desolation of our industry. We fought many dragons over the years and the reality with this industry is that even six presidents ahead of me will still have fights to fight.”
Alphonso stated that the Association will continue to lobby for the entire sector and added that another area of focus for him will be to build consensus with sister organisations and secure a unified mining industry to boost those lobbying efforts.
He also pledged to work for more mining incentives, including recouping some of those they had previously enjoyed.
Alphonso also noted that he has been the youngest member on the Association’s executive for years and said he will be working to bring more youth into the organisation.
“We need new blood, we need the next generation to step up and come to these meetings, have meaningful participation in the direction in which this Association is going. That is something that we’re definitely going to be working on, to bring that younger element into the Association.”
Meanwhile, Alphonso also took note of general elections which are due next year and urged his membership to vote for the political leadership that represents mining interests. He stated that a study done by the Association has shown that some 100,000 Guyanese adults are involved either directly or indirectly in the local mining industry and that could be a source of significant political influence.
“Now, if you’re looking at 100,000 people and let’s say the voting population is approximately 400,000 or thereabouts. We represent, you could say 25 to 30 percent of the voting population. That equates, I think it’s 5,000 a seat, that is about 20 seats in parliament. Our miners and everyone who works in our support industries represent that. We are the swing vote.”
“This Association is an independent Association, we’ve always been and we will maintain that. However, one thing we can agree on is that we want our membership to vote on a mining agenda and think about the future of mining, which party is going to ensure that you could continue to ply your trade, maintain your independence in this oil economy.
Mining has to continue to be an economically feasible activity period, that’s it. I’m not saying there aren’t things we need to improve on, there’s always room for improvement, miners need to obey laws, be more responsible, but this Association would never endorse any policy that we know would bring an end to our industry in no way, shape, or form,” Alphonso declared.
He urged the members to put the needs of their families, the industry, and Guyana above any international agenda.
The other members elected to the 2019-2021 executive management committee are Vice President Hilbert Shields; Immediate Past President Adams; Secretary Azeem Baksh; Treasurer Patrick Harding; Organising Secretary Alfro Alphonso; and Committee Members Terry Singh, David Bacchus, Dabria Marcus, and Charles DaSilva.