Minister of Natural Resources receives interim report on Puruni mining incident
(MOTP) Georgetown, Guyana – (November 09, 2016) Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman, today, received the interim report on the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the mining pit collapse, and subsequent death of a miner, at Rock Creek, Puruni, Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven) on October 8, 2016. Presidential Advisor on the Environment, Rear Admiral (ret’d) Gary Best, who had been commissioned to probe the incident, presented the report to the Minister at his Brickdam, Stabroek, office.
In accepting the Report, which was originally due on Friday November 4, the Minister said every death in the mining industry is regrettable and its frequency is particularly concerning as the Guyana gold industry has taken off and is poised to make a high declaration this year. “Every death in the mining sector is painful and His Excellency, [President David Granger] takes these [deaths] very personally and so it is the rule that… in the event that there are deaths that we will have an inquiry,” Minister Trotman said.
The Minister noted that he is confident that Advisor Best’s report will provide a better understanding of the circumstances that lead to these occurrences and how to prevent them. “I had no hesitation in my mind that Rear Admiral would do a thorough job and I know, even before I can read it, that it would take us into areas beyond just the death because I believe it is important for us to understand more [about] why this is happening, rather than just the circumstances of this individual death,” he said.
The Minister further said that he believed that Acting Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Mr. Newell Dennison, shares his and President Granger’s view that more must be done to bring deaths in the mining industry to zero.
“For the year… we’ve had six deaths, including this one. Each one is one too many and the GGMC, in conjunction with the Ministry, we are working to ensure that we avoid accidents altogether by teaching miners best practices, by being more vigilant with our work and in our work…there is room for improvement all around,” he said.
In closing, Minister Trotman said his Ministry remains committed to supporting Advisor Best’s probe into the matter and hopes to engage him after he has submitted his final report. “The real work has to start after we would have gone through the recommendations to see how we can implement them,” he said.
Meanwhile, in an effort to bring some context to his report, Advisor Best said this preliminary report has examined the regulators in the industry and a probe into other aspects of his mandate, starting with the operators, will start today. “We want to be as thorough as we can and, so far, we have had good cooperation at the upper management level, but it was quite difficult getting the evidence from the mines officers in the field. I think that was quite tough and we’ll have to go back there again and meet with some rangers to try to understand exactly what occurred,” he said.
The final report of the COI is due on Monday, November 21, 2016.
On Tuesday, October 18, Advisor Best was sworn-in by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan, at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court, to lead a probe into the incident that resulted in the death of a miner 33-year-old miner, Mr. Keon Wilson on October 8, 2016. The ceremony followed closely on the heels of a mandate given by President Granger that a CoI be established to probe the incident under Section Two of the Commission of Inquiry Act, Cap. 19:03.
Ms. Geeta Chandan-Edmonds, Legal Advisor at the Ministry of the Presidency, Mr. Joslyn McKenzie, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Mr. Derrick Lawrence, Director of Compliance at the Ministry of Natural Resources attended the presentation.