Action Plan being developed for Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining sector via regional partnerships

─ Guyana, first country BCRC working with on NAP

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, November 9, 2019

Members of the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean, (BCRC- Caribbean), are currently in Guyana, as part of the National Action Plan (NAP) Project Team, exploring mining operations in Puruni area, Region 7.

The team, comprising a management team from the Ministry of Natural Resources, BCRC- Caribbean and a group of local consultants are tasked with compiling information on the use of Mercury in Guyana, which will provide baseline data for the country’s National Action Plan for Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector.

Establishing a NAP is part of the government’s responsibility as a signatory to the Minamata Convention on Mercury. A major highlight of the Convention (Article 7) is that a party that has ASGM and processing within its territory shall take steps to reduce, and where feasible, eliminate, the use of mercury and mercury compounds, in its processes as well as its emissions and releases to the environment.

On day two of the field exercise to Puruni, the group visited mining camps at Tiger Creek and another camp popularly known as Brazo Town located above Puruni Landing. At the location, the team spoke with miners about their specific gold production processes, along with implications for health and the environment; taking also a specific look at mining equipment, gold recovery, data collection, mercury use, practices, and fuel consumption, among others.

In the late afternoon, the team visited gold traders in the Puruni Community.

Jewel Batchasingh, BCRC Acting Director, told the Department of Public Information (DPI), that her group was especially pleased to be a part of the exercise; given that this was another step closer in helping countries like Guyana become more aware of the harm and dangers of mercury.

“We want to see countries everywhere become mercury-free, given the damage it causes a person’s health and also to the environment.” Batchasingh Stated.

BCRC Project Execution Officer, Tahlia Ali Shah, said the funding will enable the Government of Guyana to properly assess what is needed for the implementation of the National Action Plan and eventually phase out mercury in the ASGM sector.

The Puruni trip, she added, was intended as an inception training for the Guyana National Action Plan project for all national consultants.

“The National Consultants will do the inventory to assess the baseline of how many persons use mercury. We have the legal and institutional capacity (consultant) to understand how the operation takes place, the socio-economic consultant as well, to help us understand social, economic and gender issues and the public health strategy experts,” Ali Shah explained.

She said this is to assist the experts in better understanding the process and the gaps as they properly assess the situation.

Along with the Ministry of Natural Resources, BCRC is the co-executing agency for the establishment of an ASGM National Action Plan in Guyana, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The fund in total is $105M (US$500, 000).

The project is being implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Guyana completed the Minamata initial assessment in 2016 and has proposed a 10-year phased reduction plan.

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