Guyana increasing natural resource potential, minimising deforestation

Through expanded mineral mapping

Guyana has expanded its mineral mapping capacity beyond tracking major minerals such as gold, diamond, and bauxite, to look for critical minerals, including gallium, hafnium, iron, rare earth elements, copper, limestone mud, scandium, tantalum, and neodymium.,

The search for these new commodities will add to Guyana’s natural resource potential.

This information was made available to the Department of Public Information (DPI) by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Friday last.

Mineral mapping is a low-impact mining technique that refers to the process of identifying and mapping the distribution of minerals in a given area or region.

It involves the use of various techniques and technologies to detect and analyse the presence and abundance of different minerals within the earth’s surface or subsurface.

The practice will also aid in the protection of Guyana’s forests.

Mining operations ongoing in Guyana

Mineral mapping in mining districts helps to identify economically exploitable deposits as a means of improving productivity within the mining sector.

It also significantly reduces deforestation by avoiding the clearing of forest cover from lands that contain only marginal mineral deposits.

That information will then allow GGMC to update its geological maps and be better able to use the information to more efficiently identify and plan for the extraction of gold or other mineral deposits.

Mineral mapping plays a crucial role in forest protection for several reasons:

Environmental Impact Assessment: Mineral mapping helps in assessing the potential environmental impacts of mining or mineral extraction activities near or within forested areas. By identifying mineral deposits and their distribution, it becomes possible to evaluate the extent to which forests might be affected. This information is vital for making informed decisions regarding land-use planning, conservation, and mitigating potential negative impacts on forest ecosystems.

Biodiversity Conservation: Forests are home to diverse plant and animal species, many of which are sensitive to environmental disturbances. Mineral mapping helps identify areas rich in minerals that may be targeted for mining activities. By understanding the mineral potential of an area, conservationists can prioritise the protection of ecologically important forests, including areas with high biodiversity or those providing critical habitat for endangered species.

Forest Management Planning: Knowledge of mineral resources within forested areas can influence forest management decisions. Mineral mapping provides insights into the geological characteristics of the region, which can inform sustainable forest management practices. Understanding the presence of valuable minerals can help strike a balance between conservation efforts and responsible mineral extraction, minimising the impact on forest ecosystems.

Water Resources Management: Mineral mapping can assist in protecting water resources in and around forests. Mining activities can potentially contaminate water bodies through the release of harmful chemicals or alteration of hydrological patterns. By identifying mineral deposits and their proximity to water sources, conservationists and policymakers can implement measures to safeguard water quality and quantity, ensuring the preservation of essential ecosystems within and downstream of forests.

Conservation of Cultural and Historical Sites: Forested areas often contain cultural and historical sites that are of significance to local communities or archaeological importance. Mineral mapping helps identify areas where minerals may be present, guiding efforts to protect and preserve these cultural and historical sites from potential mining activities that could cause irreparable damage.

In summary, mineral mapping in forest protection facilitates informed decision-making, promotes sustainable resource management, and helps conserve biodiversity, water resources, and cultural heritage. It allows for the effective integration of mineral extraction activities with forest conservation objectives, ensuring the long-term ecological integrity and sustainable use of forested landscapes.

Mineral Mapping is intrinsic to the wider field of the geological sciences and has been a technique used since the Dutch first started exploring South America. The first set of mineral maps available for Guyana began to appear in 1796. 

For the year 2022, due to the pandemic, mineral exploration was limited in capacity due to logistical constraints.

However, GGMC notes that the process is an ongoing one, and regular updates and advancements in mapping technologies, such as remote sensing and geophysical surveys, contribute to improving the accuracy and efficiency of mineral mapping activities.