An investigation will soon be launched into the suspected smuggling of gold and mercury out of Guyana. This is according to Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, who on Wednesday noted that he believes gold and mercury are being smuggled out of the country.
Trotman made the announcement during the inaugural meeting of the Multi- Stakeholder Committee on Natural Resources, held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.
The minister said his suspicion grew after inspecting the figures regarding mercury being imported. “When I look at the figures, I am amazed at the volume of mercury that is being imported into Guyana recently, given the amount of gold that we are getting. This mercury can’t all be used in Guyana. So I suspect — and that is just a suspicion of mine — that it may be going elsewhere, where it has been restricted or banned, because I don’t believe that all of it is being used in Guyana. Or it (can be that it) is being stockpiled, (but) I don’t know for what purpose,” Trotman declared.
It was further explained by the minister that the two large gold mining companies do not use mercury. According to him, mercury is more frequently used by small and medium scale miners.
“We do believe that some of the mercury being imported into Guyana is crossing the border into Suriname. Because it is banned in Suriname, it is (being) smuggled (there), we believe,” the minister pointed out.
He warned that while his suspicion has not been confirmed, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNRE) will be working with the neighbouring state (Suriname) to determine this.
One such partnership will be manifested later this month when Suriname’s Natural Resources Minister visits Guyana to facilitate a conference on the said matter and others.
Trotman promised, “We are going to be working closer with Suriname and with our partners (like) Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund and others, to bring this matter to a point and place of satisfaction”.
The minister further informed that he understands smuggling is an ongoing phenomenon which cannot be eradicated, but can rather be reduced.
He further said the MNRE is aware that gold is also being smuggled over the borders.
“We do have instances…of smuggling of gold. We believe that we have (a) better understanding of the phenomenon. Nonetheless, it continues, and we are striving to curb it…we are not going to pretend like we can eradicate smuggling and bring it to zero. We can, however, be very vigilant and curb and in fact reduce significantly the incidents of smuggling,” Trotman said.
According to him, Government has also been working with the United States Government to aid in tackling the issue.
The Minister nevertheless told the Guyana Times that an investigation will be launched into the matter.
While in opposition, the coalition party had bashed the then ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) administration for losing large amounts of revenue from to the loss of gold.