By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The 2015 elections manifesto of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) is promising that Guyana’s mining sector which is currently on a rough patch will bloom again with the establishment of mechanisms for gold refineries and more incentives for small and medium scale miners.
“This Manifesto sets out how we will win the battle to ensure that our traditional industries – including sugar, rice, forestry and mining – be viable, prosperous and generate decent work in the face of very difficult global challenges,” the document which was released on April 25 boasts.
Over the years the small and medium miners have complained about an uneven hand being dealt to them which over the course of time resulted in several back and forth between the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), the Guyana Women Miners Association (GWMO) and the state regulator body – Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).
Smaller miners have issued complaints that despite what is being said, they are not being given the same incentives that larger companies would have, hence they are unable to compete on the local or world markets; this claim however has been vehemently denied by the PPP administration.
Low productivity, low declarations and low prices have been the hallmark characteristic of the mining sector over the past year with appeals for better incentives and for the miners to declare more gold.
The PPP’s 2015 manifesto declares that if re-elected, the PPP government would pursue a review of the current Incentives Portfolio for the mining sector with emphasis being placed on small and medium scale mining for the gold and diamond mining.
It also promises to develop, valued-added initiatives for the minerals sector by exploring the possibilities for a gold refinery and a new bauxite smelting plant.
“Reviewing of the current system of allocation of mining blocks with the setting up of a public disclosure and review procedure and enhancing transparency and accountability through increased monitoring and enforcement of the sub-sectors and alignment with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI),” are also mentioned in the manifesto.
There are also plans to continue the reform of the GGMC to improve efficiency and transparency in the regulations of the mining sectors.
In Guyana, the mining and quarrying sector represents a critical component of the economy, accounting for 50 per cent of exports.
The substantial increase in the price of gold over the last few years had given rise to increased declarations and exports.
Much of Guyana’s growth in recent years has been credited to the surge in gold production in response to the then skyrocketing global prices. However, with the heavy reliance, the current downward trend in gold prices may threaten future growth of the economy.
On March 16, the precious mineral slumped to a new 4 year low of $1153 per ounce.