Natural Resources Minister agrees to random bauxite quality testing

Georgetown, GINA, July 27, 2016

Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman has agreed to random testing of the bauxite that is being shipped out of Guyana that would dispel Linden residents’ misconceptions.

Minister Trotman appeared before the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee today, along with heads of the agencies from his ministry to answer questions posed by committee members.

He was briefed about the Committee’s findings during a recent outreach to councillors and residents of Region 10 and to bauxite companies Bosai and Rusal.

The committee met with councillors from Linden last week where they learned that residents were very sceptical about the quality of the ore being shipped.

Chairman of the Committee Odinga Lumumba questioned how often the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) test the ore at the bauxite plant. He was particularly referring to the Bosai plant in the heart of Linden.

Acting Commissioner of the GGMC, Newell Dennison told the committee that while the GGMC fully inspects the operations quarterly; testing of the ore was not done. Lumumba then recommended that random sampling should be done.

“It is something we will consider. I think it is important from time to time to do random sampling of the water, of the air quality, of the ore. I see nothing wrong with it,” Trotman acceded and added, “I have confidence in the GGMC to carry out the monitoring.”

Addressing the general misconception of Linden residents that minerals beside bauxite were being shipped out of the country, Trotman said he will ask the GGMC to look into the concern. “We are not in any way dismissing what we’ve heard, we will make some checks,” Trotman noted.

APNU+AFC Member of Parliament and committee member Audwin Rutherford told the Minister that it is only, “fair to just let people know what is going on.” If the Ministry through its regulatory agency GGMC, “updates the community of Linden as to production figures for different quality of bauxite” then the misconceptions will be displaced, Rutherford noted.

Meanwhile, the dispute between workers and the bauxite companies was also raised with the minister. Trotman advised the committee that it is best to let the Ministry of Social Protection address all labour matters.

At Rusal, the Committee heard concerns for the recognition of a union for workers. Over at Bosai, the Committee was updated on the salary dispute between the company and the workers’ union.

As for the issue of tax free overtime, Trotman said he will raise the concern with the Minister of Finance. Councillors indicated that while government had announced the restoration of this benefit last year, it is still to take effect.

Trotman informed the Committee that during the month of August agencies from the Ministry of Natural Resources will conduct outreaches in Region 10. The team will meet with residents and companies in the natural resources sector, to get ‘a sense of what is happening”. The Minister then extended an invitation to the Committee for the outreach.