Region 9 PM Representative responds to mining in Marudi Mountains

Dear Editor,
With reference to an article published on November 30th 2021 under the caption “Marudi residents’ protest…Rescind mining agreement and apologise to Indigenous People – Caribbean Human Rights lawyer”, please permit me some space in these pages to clear the air on this issue and to shed some light in dark places, so that the blind can see and seek guidance in the future.
Foremost, I welcome the lawyer’s concerns and points raised in her interview with this publication, but I must also say that she was ill-informed and badly misguided, and it is also quite obvious that she didn’t do any research on this issue. In fact, the Ministry of Natural Resources has made it clear that it has taken note of the concerns raised by some stakeholders relative to mining activities in Marudi, Region Nine, and wishes to clarify the misinformation being peddled by a particular small group of persons.
Mr Editor, this small group certainly has an agenda, and I also can’t wait to make it quite clear that the Rupununi people voted solidly for the PPP/C in the 2020 Regional and General Elections, and they can’t wait to exit this economic drought that was brought upon them by the APNU/AFC regime. The fact of the matter is that this small group of persons is upset and paranoid because the APNU/AFC soup train was crashed and badly damaged in the 2020 polls, and they are hell bent on playing politics with the people’s lives.
The Rupununi people voted for President Ali after he committed to reopening Marudi Mountains, since all mining was stopped by the then APNU/AFC Government, and all he is doing is simply fulfilling one of his commitments made during his campaign meetings leading up to the 2020 General Elections.
The human rights lawyer pointed out that another requirement is that these consultations must be in good faith, with the objective of reaching an agreement, which must be in accordance with the Wapishana people’s own traditions. Fair enough, and I agree with her; but, again, I must say that this mining area provides employment for an abundance of Guyanese, and not just the Wapichan people. Most farmers would see their farm as an opportunity to create and grow a profitable business by selling their produce through a variety of different methods.
Mining has been ongoing in Marudi Mountains for decades, and continues to date. After one of the Minister of Natural Resources’ consultations in Aishalton, the team was told that there was no mining ongoing in Marudi, after questioning. Later in the evening, the GGMC Chairman and officers, along with myself and team, visited the Marudi Mountain and found a very huge excavation, and persons mining within.
Furthermore, I, along with the Minister of Natural Resources and his team, made several visits to this location and the village of Aishalton in particular, where several consultations were done in good faith, thus receiving the blessings of the people in the process.
A particular question I would like to ask on this issue is: where exactly were the voices of this small group and this ‘Human Rights Lawyer’ when the Granger cabal was hell bent on attempting to rig the 2020 elections? Where exactly were they?
On Saturday last, a few members of Cabinet paid a visit to Aishalton again. The visiting delegation included Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat; Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn; and Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai. Officials from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) were also present as this meeting, and no one objected or opposed those consultations, including the regular suspects.
During those consultations, we made it abundantly clear that all guidelines set out by the Code of Practice (COP) of the Geology & Mines Commission (GGMC) would be adhered to. For example, the team was strongly against the use of mercury, because of the hazards it poses for both the environment and the health of persons exposed to it.
Mr Editor, a recommendation was made at one of the consultations that villages/villagers can launch their own operations in the Marudi Mountains, where their very own people can be employed, and already five villages in the South Rupununi have shown interest.
Finally, this small group, however, need to get up from their slumber and support the commencement of mining, so that a sense of relief can be brought back to the miners in this tough COVID-19 pandemic.
I would urge the people of the Rupununi not to take this small group of persons serious, because they are thirsty for power and thirsty for glory.
Let progress continue.

Yours faithfully,
Claire Singh