Following the grievances of miners in the Marudi Mountain area against large-scale mining company Romanex Guyana Exploration Limited, the Natural Resources Ministry will facilitate mediation with the relevant stakeholders in Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo).
The ministry disclosed on Thursday that key focus will be placed on “crafting workable solutions for parties in resolving mining, environmental and social issues.”
To this end, a team from the Ministry of Natural Resources will visit Lethem between April 23 and 25 to “facilitate the mediation process”. This process is aimed at resolving the conflicts that have escalated between several miners in South Rupununi, Region Nine, and the mining company.
The measure to select mediation follows a meeting where Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman met with stakeholders at Aishalton Village last month. At that meeting, concerns were raised which encompassed illegal mining, environmental, and social issues. After the discussions, the minister noted the seriousness of the problems but observed it was “not insurmountable” and as such a mediated solution was “the best means” of resolving the prevailing issues.
After the parties agreed to the said approach, the ministry then appointed Major General (Retired) Joe Singh as Mediator. It was noted that the ministry has “full confidence that [Singh] possesses a wealth of knowledge, experience, and acumen to competently navigate the parties through the various issues as they find solutions to their contentious issues”.
It was pointed out that the negotiations will include the Rupununi Miners Association, Guyana Women Miners Organisation, small miners from the Marudi Mountain area, representatives from Romanex Mining Company, and leaders from the neighbouring Amerindian communities of Aishalton, Awariwaunau, Karaudanawa, Achiwuib, Maruranau, and Shea.
It was also explained that talks will begin on Saturday, April 23, and continue on Sunday 24. The supporting team will include technical officers from the ministry along with representatives from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Guyana Women Miners Organisation.
In November last year, miners of Marudi Mountain had staged a protest highlighting their threat of being evicted by the mining company. It was reported that over 300 miners had been calling on government to have their operations regularised so that their livelihoods would not be affected.