Miners burdened by “authoritarian grip” of Government – GGDMA

Rushed, high handed, authoritarian and clandestine were some of the words used by the Guyana Gold and

A typical mining area in Guyana
A typical mining area in Guyana

Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) to describe what the miners said are government’s decision to unilaterally implement new polices within the mining sector without consulting with them. These polices the GGDMA said, will have deleterious consequences to the future of the already struggling mining sector.
According to GGDMA in an extensive statement to the media, while there are many concerns, the three main issues affecting miners are the moves by the Natural Resources Ministry to no longer facilitate the VAT waiver on the acquisition of heavy-duty earth moving equipment necessary in the medium-scale mining industry; the need for medium-scale mining permit holders to produce a yearly report on a “confidential basis” divulging sensitive financial records regarding the operations of each Mining Permit; as well as the ministry’s recommendation to rescind all previously approved Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) permission for access and egress via river banks to access mining properties.
Addressing the rejection of VAT waivers on heavy machinery the GGDMA decried that “despite all the promises and commitments from the current Government of Guyana for waivers, tax concession[s] and other mechanisms designed to boost production in the industry we have been unable to get anything beyond lip service. Now we are told even the conditions we historically enjoyed are to be taken away and we will have to pay even more to work in the industry.”
GGDMA said tax waivers were historically present within the mining sector, since their equipment are used in all scales of production. With its removal, “the additional cost that a miner will have to bear on each new excavator will be between $4.5 million to $7 million.
In the case of bulldozers it will be significantly higher. Given that these machines typically have a working life in the interior of three years, this is an added cost per excavator of approximately $13 million to $21 million over a 10-year period. Such large sums will definitely pose a heavy burden that will be difficult for medium-scale miners to bear and may lead to an increase in the number of operators exiting the industry.”
The body outlined that despite them being compliant with their taxes, medium-scale miners have not benefitted from any of the promised concessions on fuel and other items that were granted last year October for a period of six months.
The GGDMA said miners were duped since the documents for the granting of their concessions, while executed, did not materialise anything: “These are retrograde steps, and we believe they are designed with suspiciously sinister motives.”
Speaking on the requirement to provide financial reports on the operations of each mining permit, the GGDMA posited that many of the ministry and even the GGMC polices are implemented without consulting the miners: “This was the main impetus that lead the then President, Donald Ramotar, to establish a Ministerial committee a few years ago with GGMC and the MNR in collaboration with the GGDMA to meet, consult and deliberate on revisions to the Mining Act and other related policies and regulations before the revised 2012 regulations were to take effect. The main reason was to ensure applicability and practicality.”
The mining body is calling on Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman to rekindle this process before any such “dormant regulations are enforced”. The association is objecting to the implementation of any new policy without consultation and is calling for an urgent meeting with President David Granger, to discuss this, and other issues.
According to GGDMA, the MNR’s decision to rescind every single permission previously granted by GGMC for access and egress to mining properties via river banks is unreasonable.
However, government had recently issued a statement outlining that mining near river banks was banned, so as to protect the natural water sources from being polluted.
“While we can appreciate GGMC’s desire to enforce the mining permissions/agreements and to have compliance in the sector, we wish to reiterate that it should be done via a genuine private and public partnership where there is consultation and education before action” said GGDMA.