– says collaboration needed to strengthen mining industry
Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman has lashed back at executives of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), who recently called for more concessions to be granted it members.
The organisation had also requested last Friday that government lay out a blueprint that it would use to move the mining sector forward.
However on Saturday Minister Trotman in a strongly worded statement said he was still seeking to understand the motive behind the calls of the GGDMA executives, noting that the recent attack, having taken the ministry by surprise, suggests that the GGDMA prefers to see itself as a pressure group rather than as a committed partner, working alongside the Ministry of Natural Resources to regulate an industry that was previously governed in a very unregulated and biased manner.
The minister said his ministry has been having cordial engagements with the organisation, the most recent on May 10, 2016, when the Ministers of the Ministry, the Chairman and Commissioner of the GGMC and others, sat with the executive of the GGDMA and held discussions on issues affecting miners and the ways to tackle them together.
“No statements about a crisis or absence of a policy were uttered at that meeting and beg the question whether the meeting was a sham. Interestingly, the GGDMA has also declined to share a comprehensive review of the sector, sponsored by the IDB, on its behalf, even though conceding that the findings would benefit the Government’s efforts at reform and be useful in refining its policies”, the statement from the minister said.
The GGDMA executives, at a meeting Friday said there seems to be an unclear policy for the mining sector along with increased production costs. They were also clamouring for an audience with President David Granger.
All these had occurred even after Minister Trotman announced that there had been an increase in gold production.
“You go to a meeting with one person and they tell you this is what they are going to do… you go to another meeting and they tell you something else. It is very confusing,” President of the organisation Trevor Adams had said.
Trotman in his statement said government firmly believes that it was only through collaboration that, “we can truly tap and exploit the mineral wealth in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.”
He said recent statistics about high gold declarations contradict the GGDMA’s utterances about the industry being in a crisis and devoid of any policy to give it direction.
“The statistics don’t lie, and instead, confirm that an industry that is better regulated and incentive driven will produce results. The ‘free for all’ days that some want to drag us back to are over. The Ministry of Natural Resources remains ready, willing and able to seriously, fairly, and meaningfully engage the GGDMA and all other stakeholders, and is expecting that they are prepared to do the same”, the minister said.
The GGDMA along with the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) had signed agreements with Finance Minister Winston Jordan, exempting eligible miners from custom duties on fuel and equipment. However, at the meeting Friday, the organisation’s president said that after six months, things took a different turn, and miners began losing out on the agreement.
“It was only for six months but the fuel was a total disaster in terms of dealing with the other ministries or agencies, that is GEA and GGMC… I don’t think we had an issue with GRA for the first instance; they were prompt in their response back to us, he said.
He said however, that the problem seemed to have resonated with the GGMC, which took a considerable amount of time to come up with approval for documents.