The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) in a statement on Friday said mining is an essential industry and as such must continue to function.
The statement comes after the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) called on the National COVID-19 Task Force to remove mining as an essential service.
“At this time, when Guyana needs all the economic help it can get, mining provides valuable jobs and as such has been recognised as an essential service,” GGDMA stated.
The GGDMA said it also welcomes the assistance and support of the Region 9 Chairman in helping its members to continue to provide this lifeline for Guyana’s economy.
The GGDMA is also encouraging all stakeholders to recognize the importance of mining and support miners who live and work in the various villages in the Rupununi.
The toshaos, or village leaders, of several villages in the Rupununi are determined not to let outsiders, including miners, into their villages so as to protect their people against COVID-19.
GGDMA stated that miners who have the necessary permits and clearances should not be hindered from pursuing a livelihood.
“We support the right of the villages to put in additional control measures to prevent illegal operators from breaching the rules of social distancing and quarantine and from unnecessary interaction with village populations. Guyanese miners like other citizens have a right to work and pursue a livelihood,” GGMDA stated.
“We share the concerns of the villages through which miners must traverse and urge all miners to take full precautions to ensure that they minimise exposure and interaction with local residents. We urge miners to traverse swiftly and safely through the villages and minimise the length of time they spend in areas in which they are not working. The GGDMA calls on miners to follow all the health and safety guidelines as set out by the Ministry of Health and to work with the various village Toshaos to help maintain safety.”
The statement further noted that even in the current pandemic, miners have continued to work to ensure that mining and the many support industries continue to survive.
GGDMA notes that mining continues to operate within the guidelines and laws as set out by the Ministry of Health and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.
The GGDMA also calls on the regional authority and the border authorities to ramp up enforcement to prevent illegal border crossings.