Gov’t committed to rebuilding mining sector amid pandemic, flooding

As Guyana celebrates Mining Week 2021 under the theme “Managing Change and Crisis Resilience in Mining”, Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, MP, has reiterated the Government’s plan to rebuild the lucrative sector.

The Minister was delivering the feature address at an awards ceremony hosted at the Pegasus Hotel on Friday.

“Mining Week 2021 has provided an opportunity to reboot/reset against the adversities of the past year while reflecting on the better aspects of last year positively.  The Government through the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has demonstrated through concessionary arrangements for equipment, materials and fuel that there will be tangible support for this important sector.”

Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, MP, presenting an award to a representative of S.A.B Mining

The Natural Resources Minister issued a call for stakeholders to appreciate that mining is evolving and changes in the sector are inevitable due to the changing environment.

Climate change, the Low Carbon Development Strategy and green themes, Minister Bharrat noted, cannot be ignored.

Addressing mercury use and improved recovery for gold were highlighted as important to the rebuilding process.

“Moreover, better accountability within the sector has to be a response to expectations at the local and international levels where leakages in the sector are viewed under the lens of Anti-Money Laundering/ Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (AML/CFATF) and where the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) is a supervisory authority. 

“Guyana has to address AML/CFATF risks to maintain its international credibility and compliance with international policy and regulations to remain competitive,” the Minister noted.

Chairman of the GGMC, Jimmy Reece presenting an award to a mining operator for innovative mining

Meanwhile, GGMC Commissioner, Newell Dennison highlighted the importance of depending on science, technology and engineering in the mining sector, especially in these extraordinary times.

He explained that, “unfortunately, and unexpectedly, Guyana had to grapple with the worst floods on a sustained basis that had been ever recalled. This situation had brought into focus more than ever the vulnerability of Guyana to climate-sensitive events… My earlier refrain, therefore, is again relevant in that we should not resist the solutions, technology and engineering that can balance between mining impacts and the environment.”

Even as Guyana becomes a major oil and gas state, the GGMC Commissioner reminded that for decades, the mining sector, more than others, has been supporting the economy.

“That self-sufficiency in itself in basic constructure and infrastructure materials through mining of aggregates continues to be strategic as Guyana experiences unprecedented growth,” he said.

Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, MP, and GGMC officials pose with the 2021 Mining Week awardees

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association announced earlier this year that Guyana raked in some US$808,587,118 in export earnings from gold for 2020. The sector produced 485,552 ounces of gold during the year, which the GGMC attributed to small and medium-scale miners. Notably, some 200,000 Guyanese are benefitting either directly or indirectly from Guyana’s mining sector.