Forestry, mining sectors under threat from flooding – Natural Resources Minister

…says small, medium-scale miners hard hit

By Jarryl Bryan

The floodwaters brought on by torrential downpours has hit Guyana’s natural resources sector hard, making life difficult for the small and medium scale miners, who toil within the sector and who will be left to pick up the pieces when the waters recede.
In an exclusive interview with this publication, Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat said that mining camps in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) have particularly been affected by flooding.
“Sadly, forestry and mining is under threat right now with the flooding, the continuous heavy rainfall. The high tide, the water coming in from neighbouring Brazil and other countries,” he explained.
“So many of the mining areas have actually been under water, many of the mining camps have been washed away in Region Seven, Region Eight especially. Those are our big mining regions. And the water is very high in those regions,” the Natural Resources Minister further explained.

Scenes from El Paso in Region Eight, a mining community that has been hit heavily by floods (Photos by Mahdia Deputy Mayor Cassandra Burrowes)

Reports reaching this publication indicate that miners with land dredges have been most hard hit. According to Bharrat, it is hoped that the floodwaters will recede soon so that the miners can start rebuilding their lives.
“We’re hoping that we can go back to normalcy sometime soon. This is affecting small and medium scale miners, more so the small miners because they don’t have the kind of facilities the medium scale miners will have. So that is the issue facing our miners right now,” he said.
The destruction of small and medium scale mines in the region follows reports that more than 200 farms have been destroyed amid major flooding in several parts of Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).

Scenes from El Paso in Region Eight, a mining community that has been hit heavily by floods (Photos by Mahdia Deputy Mayor Cassandra Burrowes)

Regional Chairman Headley Pio had told Guyana Times on Thursday that assessments were still ongoing to determine the full extent of the floods and corresponding damage. However, from reports garnered thus far, he noted that more than 130 farms are now waterlogged from heavy rainfall in Bamboo Creek.
At Paruka, some 30 small farms have been affected while at Kopinang, in excess of 100 farms are under water. El Paso is possibly the hardest-hit community in the region, with houses completely submerged as the Potaro River overflowed. Water levels had reached some five feet. This newspaper was told that the water is slowly receding.
The floods left the homes of six families completely underwater. The flood also forced one side of the Tumatumari Hydropower Station to break. The roads are completely flooded and are currently closed; the only access to El Paso is by boat.
Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai has already visited El Paso where relief hampers were distributed to residents. She is expected to visit other affected areas in the region.

The Mazaruni River overflowing its banks

More rainfall expected
The Guyana Hydrometeorological Service has said that the current heavy, persistent rain being experienced may not end until mid-July/August. In an interview on Wednesday with the National Communications Network, Head of Climatology at the Hydromet Office, Khomalchand Dhiram said the end of the rainy season was different in the northern and southern parts of Guyana.
He explained that in northern Guyana, the transition out of the rainy season usually occurrs in mid-July. In the southern part of Guyana, the transition occurs in August. Dhiram said Guyana and other countries in the Americas are exiting the La Niña phase. This, along with the El Niño phase, is a climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean that can affect weather worldwide.
During La Niña events, trade winds are even stronger than usual, pushing more warm water toward Asia. Off the west coast of the Americas, upwelling increases, bringing cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface.
Meanwhile, Chief Hydromet Officer, Dr Garvin Cummings revealed that the above-normal rainfall dates back to December 2020 – with the exception of February 2021.