Press Release – Clarifications on ongoing GGMC enforcement operations at Marudi Mountain, Region 9, and Tassawini, Region 1.

The Ministry of Natural Resources wishes to give clarifications on the enforcement exercises currently under execution at Marudi Mountain and Tassawini. Particularly the Ministry wishes to highlight the nature of the operations; why they became necessary and their overall objectives.

Marudi Mountain’s Enforcement

The operation began on May 1st, 2019 with a team of officers headed by GGMC Senior Engineer, Trevor Hurry along with three members of the Ministry’s Corps of Wardens and four members of the Guyana Police Force. This was in response to major deviations from the ‘Mediation of the Marudi Mountain Dispute Agreement’ of 2016.

In April 2016, the Minister of Natural Resources Hon. Raphael Trotman on behalf of the Government of Guyana had intervened in a standoff between small miners from the Marudi Mountain area, representatives of Indigenous communities, and Romanex Guyana Exploration Limited. The Minister had facilitated a mediation process resulting in all parties signing the ‘Mediation of the Marudi Mountain Dispute Agreement’. This agreement paved the way for approximately 70 small scale mining operations to be able to continue operations providing they adhere to the environmental, safety and health stipulations. However, in late 2018 and early 2019, several small-scale operators had descended upon the Mazoa Hill area and began dangerous and illegal mining operations. This was a direct breach of the terms of the agreement signed in 2016, hence the current enforcement. At the response to numerous requests for an enforcement operation made by the company, Romanex Inc., the Rupununi Miners Association and the South Rupununi Developmment Board, the GGMC has chosen to respond at this time.

The enforcement team upon commencement of their work on May 1st, has held a general meeting to inform persons of the purpose of the exercise and expected outcomes. This was followed with the issuance of orders to unauthorized operators within the Marudi Mining License to remove from claim or permit area under Regulation 154. A total of thirty-four operators of “Crushers” and four operators of hydraulic excavators have been issued with orders to remove. The time allowed on the removal orders would expire today Sunday, May 5, 2019.

Tassawini’s Enforcement

The enforcement operation began on May 1st, 2019 with a team of three Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) officers headed by Senior Mining Engineer, Michael Howard along with three members of the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Corps of Wardens and four members of the Guyana Police Force.  The area currently has several illegal miners present. The objective, therefore, is to remove all mining operations from Wayne Vieira’s mineral properties located within the Tassawini Amerindian Reserve, Barama River. Discussions between the GGMC and representatives of the Chinese Landing community took place in 2018 when it was pointed out that a ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice affirmed Mr. Wayne Vieira’s rights to the mining concession and copies of the Order of Court were shared.

The enforcement team has so far held discussions with the Toshao and Councilors of Tassawini Village on the purpose of the visit and its intended activities. There are an estimated seventeen illegal and heavily mechanised mining operations on Wayne Vieira’s mineral property V-4/MP/000. The enforcement activities begun with the dismantling of eleven (11) wooden sluice-boxes and the retrieval of several pieces of tackling associated with the mining operations. The remaining persons had asked for additional time to remove their equipment from the mineral property. Wayne Vieira would be expected to secure the mineral property within a specified period.

It is the Ministry’s responsibility to ensure safe and responsible exploration, development and utilization of Guyana’s natural resources, as such we will continue to investigate and respond to issues of illegal and dangerous mining activities and always deter such acts. The Ministry encourages all to cooperate with the officers to ensure proper execution of the operation.

Further updates will be provided on both enforcement operations.

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