By Isanella Patoir
South African Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant is on a visit to Guyana and the two countries look to advance interests in the areas of mining, investment and other opportunities.
The Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman welcomed Oliphant at his Georgetown office. Minister Oliphant and his delegation will over the next five days visit the country’s interior mining locations and meet with key government officials.
South Africa has been mining for over 150 years and is one of the largest mining countries in the world.
“Here we are today to share experiences and also to learn from your beautiful country.
“So many resources (are) dormant that needs to be mined responsibly,” Minister Oliphant said.
He suggested that mining is a difficult science, but once technological advances are applied, it becomes exciting. He said that South Africa will be able to help Guyana in addressing the health, safety and environmental challenges of mining.
Guyana faces regulatory challenges within the gold mining sector. With one of the areas being illegal mining, Minister Trotman said miners when confronted can be raucous, since they have to make a living.
Another challenge is mining on riverbanks which lead to polluted waters. There is also the issue with Indigenous land titles, where the indigenous people claim that mining is desecrating sacred grounds.
“South Africa brings experiences of which they have overcome some of the challenges that we are facing.
“…we hope to deepen the exchanges between the two countries at a government to government level and institutional level,” said Trotman.
The South African team is expected to share their data, knowledge and experience to help with some of the challenges Guyana currently faces, while simultaneously learning from the country’s experiences in the mining industry. Staff in the mining sector will be exposed to experience first world training opportunities.
“And… we would like to invite investment from South Africa to Guyana. We believe that, financially, South Africa has a way with all and has experience in mining gold and diamonds in particular,” Minister Trotman said.
Officials of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Guyana Gold Board attended the meeting.
GGMC officials noted that South Africa can assist in building Guyana’s capacity to map the country geologically and geochemically. Geochemical mapping focuses on areas where gold is present, where there is a lack of important elements such as phosphorus and magnesium, or a high risk of natural elements.
Gordon Nester, Manager Geological Services Division, said GGMC needs assistance from the South African team in underground mining.
The safety and extraction of workers in this area will need great assistance.
Krishna Ramdas, GGMC, Mines Division Manager (ag) said the Commission is trying to improve the genetic footprints from mining. With expertise help from the South African team, GGMC will look at ways to better target diamonds extraction.
The Guyana Gold Board recorded the extraction of 616, 838 ounces of gold last year. The entity is looking to embark on mobile buying, where they buy gold directly from local miners in far flung areas, General Manager, Eondrene Thompson said.
Thompson said miners should sell to the Gold Board where there will be assurance of royalties and taxes being paid.