Ministry of Natural Resources and Other Government Agencies Already Responding to Mercury Situation – No Effort Or Expense Will Be Spared To Protect Workers

PRESS RELEASE

The Ministry of Natural Resources notes a curious press release issued by the PPP/C concerning the deaths of several Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) workers and wishes to place on record that no official or formal report of this matter has been received about these deaths being mercury related.

The Ministry of Natural Resources will await a report to this effect from the GGMC and will again engage the workers about any grievances that may exist.  Further, there is simply no existing empirical data which establish that mercury is responsible for the deaths of miners and GGMC workers in recent times. However, efforts are already in train to scientifically establish whether there is such a link. No effort and no expense will be spared in pursuit of the truth and the protection of the workers.

The GGMC is a decades old institution and so too the use of mercury in mining, which has straddled several political administrations. Miners and workers of the GGMC and the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) have for many years been exposed to mercury at various levels and times both in the hinterland and in the city because of its widespread use in the amalgamation of gold. In the case of the workers of GGMC and the GGB, they have been affected through no fault of their own. With the signing and ratification of the Minamata Convention for the eradication of the use of mercury in mining, the Government of Guyana intends to address this matter frontally.

The Government has been working assiduously with, and through several Ministries and Agencies including, the EPA and Ministry of Social Protection, to ensure that the current issues are resolved to the satisfaction of the workers. The Ministry calls on the PPP not to play politics with the wellbeing of workers, but rather, to work with government to reduce and eradicate the use of mercury in mining – given that the negative impact of mercury use did not rear its head in 2018, but long before.

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