Illegal miners blocking foreign investment – Canadian company
Dispute in Region 1
Canadian gold mining company, Vangold Mining said that the mining being undertaken by miners of Chinese Landing, Barama River, Region One (Barima-Waini), is illegal and that the court has ruled that the blocks are owned by Wayne Vieira.
“The land does not belong or is part of the Chinese Landing Community. They have no title and we’re given no title nor can produce title,” Vangold Mining said in a statement to Guyana Times.
According to Vangold Mining, Vieira is the lawful owner of the four mining permits as is in accordance with the decision by the Caribbean Court of Justice.
“The Chinese Landing community does not have mining rights. The court ruled that it is not an Amerindian village,” the Canadian gold mining company said on Tuesday.
The company added that the illegal mining on Vieira’s concession has caused extensive damage to the buildings that were constructed there by the previous company that operated lawfully on the concessions.
According to the company, the core shack has collapsed and the core samples are strewn about and this could result in tens of millions of US dollars being spent to replace. Other buildings were also damaged and are in a deteriorated state.
“The illegal mining activities have caused extensive environmental damage. The Chinese Landing community is allowing illegal mining to occur in unsafe conditions and is depriving the Republic of Guyana of its lawful royalties for the production of gold, the community is charging an illegal tax to the miners,” the company said.
It added that illegal miners are blocking foreign investment, which would create good jobs and revenue to this country.
The company stressed that the miners were never interested in the land until 2011 when a Canadian company had spent C$34 million, proven a substantial resource, to commence operations there.
“Vieira has worked peacefully until then since 1995 when he acquired the concessions. The community blocked access to the title holder and his representatives and threatened to use force,” the company said.
Further, it pointed out that the illegal miners are allowing potentially toxic substances and sediments to flow into nearby rivers.
Miners from Chinese Landing on Sunday complained that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) officials and Police are destroying their mining camps and halting their dredging operations. The miners called on the GGMC to offer some direction on the issue so that it can be resolved speedily. They are contending that the rights of Amerindians are being trampled upon and Amerindian communities are being taken advantage of by these officials and the Administration as a whole.
This exercise, the miners said, began last week and they are being forced to move out of the worksite.
Meanwhile, in an invited comment on the issue on Sunday, Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman said that the area has a mining concession owned by Wayne Vieira and after many years of court battles, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled that the GGMC cannot prevent him from mining.
During the time, many miners started mining there, and Vieira and his investors have complained for several months that the area was being “raided” by illegal miners and called for the mining to cease.
Minister Trotman noted that both the GGMC and the Natural Resources Ministry have met with the representatives of Chinese Landing to explain the legal ramifications of the CCJ’s decision and that they have received a letter threatening contempt of court proceedings if they failed to honour that decision.
Trotman highlighted that the Ministry and the GGMC would work with both the miners and the Chinese Landing Village Council to ensure respect for the law and respect for the rights of the village as per the Amerindian Act prevailed.