An April 3rd, 2019 Stabroek News letter to the editor headlined “Mining in Marudi area remains major problem, gov’t must take action” has come to the attention of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The letter written by Chief Kokoi Tony James A.A contains several imprecisions and relies on an obvious misunderstanding. It highlights an issue of mining in the Marudi area and further states that permission for this mining has been given by the Minister of Natural Resources and claims a disregard of the residents of the village of Aishalton in consultation. These statements are the furthest from the truth.
The Ministry kindly wishes to correct these inaccuracies and further reassure readers of the Government of Guyana’s commitment to processes of consultation and adherence of laws.
Firstly, contrary to the article the Minister of Natural Resources Hon. Raphael Trotman did not give permission to any miner to conduct mining operations on Mazoa which is in the concession of the Romanex Guyana Exploration Ltd. It should be noted though, that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) is the regulator of the mining industry and so granted the Marudi Mining License (ML-/2009) to Romanex in 2009. However, due to several issues with the company a suspension order was issued in 2014 but the company was reinstated in 2016.
From the onset, several small miners organized under the Rupununi Miners Association (RMA) were operating illegally in the area with efforts to remove them proving futile. With this, conflict ensued between the miners and Romanex. As such, the Minister of Natural Resources convened a mediation process resulting in the Marudi Mediation Agreement (MMA). Throughout this mediation process the RMA, Romanex officials, and Toshaos of eight Southern Rupununi Villages were present and made inputs. Nowhere throughout, and after this process, did the Minister authorize any additional persons, groups or companies to conduct mining operations outside of those involved in the mediation process. Further, it is not within the power of the Minister, but that of the GGMC, to issue mining licenses and permits.
Further, the article goes on to claim that there is no meaningful and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples when it comes to activities like mining. Contrary to this belief, as mentioned above, the Toshaos of the eight villages were present throughout the mediation process and did raise concerns only in relation to mercury use and turbidity of waters, to which the Government instructed the company to conduct an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment which in totality would speak of mitigating measures. The Ministry and by extension the Government of Guyana has a moral and constitutional responsibility to the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana and have always valued the relationship due to the significant role they play in their communities and in the sustainable management of Guyana’s natural patrimony.
Moving forward, the Ministry is respectful of the concerns raised, though they may contain inaccuracies. Although we encourage persons to raise their concerns, it is pertinent that they ensure that they are not misinformed in order to not mislead persons when these concerns are raised. We encourage all to take advantage of the Ministry’s outreaches and other platforms to voice their concerns and have their matters discussed and resolved.
Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Natural Resources