Field assessments begin for National Action Plan for Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining sector

DPI, Guyana, Friday, November 8, 2019

Miners and persons connected to the local gold mining industry have been assured that the government’s plan to reduce the use of mercury, in the process of gold production, will not affect their livelihood

National Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) Inventory Expert and Lead Consultant, Kemraj Parsram, told the Department of Public Information, (DPI) that reducing the use of mercury will be done in a phased approach and not a complete ban and stoppage.

“We have to explore what strategies and actions we will recommend to eventually be able to commit to the Minamata Convention [of which Guyana is a party to].”

Parsram added that the team must study the baseline, to get a full, clear and scientific understanding of the uses of mercury in Guyana.

Parsram, who is the leader of a group of local consultants, travelled to Puruni, Region 7 for a three-day visit, to get a first-hand look at how mining and the subsequent processing of gold is done, and how mercury is used in this process. He was accompanied by a Project Management team from the Ministry of Natural Resources, along with the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean, (BCRC-Caribbean).

The team arrived in Bartica early Thursday and made several visits to gold trading establishments to observe their specific methods of processing gold. They also visited a well-known hardware supplier who sells mercury over the counter to customers.

“We need to understand what the actual mining situation is in Guyana, in terms of the use of mercury and the type of practices associated with it; as the Minamata Convention sets out the blueprint for managing the use of mercury, as it has impacts on human health and the environment,” Parsram further explained.

Of the Minamata Convention, Parsram emphasised that it already has formulated strategies and actions to reduce mercury use, hence its impact.

Guyana completed the Minamata initial assessment in 2016, and must now work to formulate a National Action Plan (NAP) for its Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASGM) sector.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is an international treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.