Ministry of Natural Resources orders fact-finding team to Puruni and Mazaruni following reports of river degradation from gold mining


GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Ministry of Natural Resources has noted the recent media coverage emanating from a report compiled by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) regarding environmental degradation due to gold mining activities.

We can confirm that the Minister of Natural Resources has ordered a team comprising officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Ministry’s Compliance Division be despatched into the affected areas in Puruni and Mazaruni in a matter of days with a view to ascertaining the severity of the impact and the accuracy of the reports and putting in place urgent corrective measures.

As part of its 2017 programme, the Ministry has made the issue of compliance in all natural resources operations a high priority. Our Compliance Division, created in 2016, is now being staffed. This notwithstanding, the Compliance Division has already been integral in a number of recent compliance enforcement campaigns in collaboration with the GGMC which have resulted in the shutting down of a number of mining operations, including river mining, due to environmental infringements.

The Minister has also tasked the Compliance Division of the Ministry to work with other relevant stakeholders and agencies on a rapid assessment of the situation in order to formulate long-term remedial policy adjustments. This action is in addition to the plans the Government has for encouraging and enforcing compliance with relevant laws and regulations and for technical interventions including the use of dredge tracking technology and drones.

At the inception meeting of the new Board of Directors of the GGMC on Thursday April 13, 2017, Minister of Natural Resources Honourable Raphael G.C. Trotman M.P., charged the members of the Board to focus on Environmental Management with sensitisation in the first instance and more proactive initiatives for monitoring of water quality.

Government recognises that mining has been for decades, and will continue to be, one of the mainstays of our economy and will not shirk its responsibility to ensure that it is done in a manner that respects the environment. As a nation, our efforts have not been as effective; especially in the area where mining effluent from both within Venezuela and Guyana combine to affect our rivers.

The Ministry is therefore appreciative of the vigilance of agencies such as the GHRA and we commit to holding environmental stewardship in high regard as outlined in the Ministry’s Mission Statement: ‘To develop, implement and oversee policies for the responsible exploration, development and utilisation of natural resources whilst ensuring the protection and conservation of the environment and advancing the green economy.’

April 18, 2017

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