Fairly good year for natural resources – Minister Trotman
GINA, GUYANA, Friday, December 23, 2016
Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman said he was pleased with the overall performance of the extractive sector in 2016.
As the year comes to a close, the Government Information Agency (GINA) asked the minister to self-assess the extractive sector. “I’d like to say that we’ve ended it on a fairly good note. I wouldn’t say that it was perfect, but good,” Minister Trotman said in a recent interview.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has oversight responsibility for the forestry, mining and quarrying sectors, and the emerging oil and gas sector.
Minister Trotman said he believed that “we’ve managed to stabilise things in the forest sector” despite the challenges faced the year.
The forestry sector was expected to produce 320,000 cubic meters of logs which is 30 percent below the 2015 level of 450,000 cubic meters, but at the time of writing this article, the final production was not available. Export value was projected to be US$38M, a 15 percent decline from 2015’s US$46M.
Challenges the forest sector faced included:
- Under performance by existing concessioners
- Barama Company giving up its 1.6M hectares of logging concession
- Several other large concessions returned to the state by default, and in some instances non-compliance
- Slow down on the international market and
- Ban of greenheart export to the United Kingdom
Nonetheless, Minister Trotman remains confident in the sector to improve its performance in the new year. “(These) have had an effect, but we believe that it gives us an opportunity to assess what we have, revalue the forest and we are now preparing to give out concessions,” Minister Trotman noted.
The Ministry will be moving to redistribute the concessions that have returned to the state. “We are now preparing to give out concessions,” Minister Trotman told GINA. Small loggers in particular stand to benefit from this. Barama’s concession will be divided into four pieces of 400,000 hectares, one of which will be set aside for small loggers. “Small loggers will always be taken care of,” the Minister assured.
Some achievements of the forest sector:
- Preparatory activities to advance the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCFP) in 2017
- Review of the National Forest and Log Export Policies
- Annual allowable cuts remain below recommended levels
Meanwhile, work is underway to remove the ban on the export of greenheart logs to the United Kingdom. A team is expected to travel to London in the coming year to discuss the iasue.
“We continue to be a country that is held up as a standard for conservation and that is very good,” Minister Trotman said.
Mining and quarrying
In the mining sector there were “one death too many” but the Ministry of Natural Resources “has managed to pull back on the mining deaths,” Minister Trotman noted.
Achievements in the sector included:
- Unprecedented gold declarations of 641,668 ounces
- Increased diamond declaration of 109,651 metric carats
- Expected growth in other mining and quarrying minerals by 2 percent
- Over 300 miners trained in mines safety and correct mining practices
- Increased capacity building for Guyana Geology and Mines (GGMC) field staff in occupation safety and health, and other safe mining practices
- Exploration of methods to improve recovery rate and reduce use of mercury in mining
- Launch of corps of warden to enforce compliance across extractive sector
- Renewal of concessions contract with the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA)
- Mahdia miners among first to receive syndicated mining lands
- Closed Area Committee (CAC) distributed more than 200 mining claims to small and medium scale miners
- Mapping of Guyana’s mineral deposits. Work in the Itaballi area, Region Seven is expected to be completed by the end of year.
For bauxite, the Minister noted that a committee has been convened to examine the future of the sector, and the possible revival of the aluminium plant.
Minister Trotman noted that his ministry will continue to work with miners to address their concerns in relation to concessions and mining lands. “This year the focus was on mines’ safety, and of course, we want to take that into 2017, and as well, to concentrate on other rare minerals,” Minister Trotman noted.
Preparing for first oil
The Ministry of Natural Resources has been working assiduously to ensure that Guyana is ready for oil production which is expected to begin in 2020. Guyana has partnered with a number of international agencies and countries to develop the sector.
In November, ExxonMobil and its partners formally notified that Guyana has commercial quantities of oil in keeping with the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act Cap 65:01.
Preparations for the emerging sector that were undertaken in 2016 included:
- Series of consultations with private sector and other stakeholders
- Mentorship programme with Uganda facilitated by Chatham House’s New Oil Producers Group
- Chatham House facilitated seminar on governance of the petroleum sector
- Receipt of Rapid Analysis of the State of Readiness of Guyana’s Hydrocarbon Regulatory Framework report facilitated by the UNDP
- First Draft of Corporate Social Responsibility completed
- Candidacy for Extractive Industries Initiative (EITI) to be submitted by year end
- Review of several pieces of legislation and policies including Oil and Gas Policy, Revised Petroleum Act Revised Petroleum Act and Regulations, Local Content Policy and Regulations, Petroleum Commission Bill, Petroleum Taxation and Fiscal Legislation, Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Regulations and a Bill to provide for Sovereign Wealth/Generational Savings, Stabilisation, Infrastructural Social Welfare and Citizens Participation Fund.
“I believe that we are seeing a healthy sector and government is responding,” Minister Trotman summed up the year.
By: Tiffny Rhodius