Small and medium scale miners keeping gold production in a ‘good place’ – GGMC Commissioner
By Isanella Patoir
With Toshaos, Village Councils and the Guyana Human Rights Association calling for mining to be removed as an essential service under the national COVID-19 measures, Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Newell Dennison has said mining will continue but has urged miners to be responsible.
Dennison, in an interview with the News Room, said GGMC is cognizant of the complaints levelled against miners during this time and encouraged the miners to be respectful when passing through the indigenous villages.
“Make sure you follow the procedures, make sure you don’t loiter if you’re passing through, if you have to sterilize, sterilize and be respectful,” Dennison said.
The Commissioner highlighted that it is the small and medium scale miners that have been keeping the gold production at what is expected during this time, even with the transition of Guyana Goldfields Inc to Canadian-owned SilverCorp Metals Inc.
That transition has meant that over 100 employees have been terminated even though the government assured that it will protect the workers when it announced the takeover by SilverCorp.
“Everyone will be aware that with the situation with Guyana Goldfields that the projection there would have gone off the mark. So if we focus production from the small and medium scales I would say so far in a general sense I believe that they have been holding their own,” Dennison stated.
This is also due to the fact that the miners have not stopped production since December last year. Added to this, the price has been in a good place in the last several weeks and fuel has also been relatively low in the last few weeks.
“Miners have been encouraged by those circumstances and that is what I believe have been keeping us in a good place in terms of production from small and medium scale,” Dennison said.
According to Dennison, GGMC respects the concerns from communities and villages but noted that mining will continue. Dennison is also calling for more sensitization to be done in the villages.
“This is not just a GGMC role. I think there is quite a bit more that needs to be done in terms of sensitizing the communities.
Meanwhile, GGMC is also faced with illegal mining activities but Dennison noted that there have not been any significant increases during this time.
“You see mining isn’t going to stop and there will always be those persons who would want to take an opportunity to press their envelope of lawlessness.
“In the traditional areas where we would expect illegal mining, I haven’t seen anything more or less than what we would have seen in the past,” Dennison stated.
He also said that the GGMC stations in the fields are still operating but with minimum staff.
To soften the impacts of COVID-19, GGMC has extended payment claims for March 31 until June 05.
Dennison also assured that they have actively employed social distancing guidelines; staff is being rotated and GGMC is also encouraging the use of its online platform at [email protected]