Guyanese authorities say they will be expanding an operation against illegal mining in the hinterlands with broader involvement of the security forces. This is according to Natural Resources and the Environment Minister Robert Persaud who on Thursday at a news briefing noted the outcome of Operation El Dorado last month in which some 90 Brazilians were held and equipment belonging to Guyanese was seized.
“We intend to continue with Operation El Dorado and in fact heighten and expand this operation, covering other parts of the country which we know and where we also suspect there are high levels of illegal mining. We will also be working much more with the Guyana Defence Force and the Guyana Police Force so as to sustain the impact of this operation because what can happen is soon after our operation in a few weeks persons go back and continue their activities,” Persaud stated.
The minister was understandably reluctant to divulge details about the operation and added that the results would be made public. He said that the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) is also onboard with the operation since illegal mining takes away opportunities for legitimate operators and gives the entire mining community a bad name as it relates to environmental practices. The authorities also plan to hold a meeting with the local Brazilian community as part of their efforts to curb illegal mining.
“On May 16 we will be convening a meeting with the Brazilian community, particularly those involved in mining; we’ll be bringing together the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Guyana Police Force, the GGMC and other stakeholders in the mining community to discuss their (the Brazilians) concerns and re-emphasise what our national laws are and what are the expectations,” the minister said.
Persaud was quick to point out that the Brazilians were not being singled out as illegal miners, explaining that they were chosen because they constitute the largest group of non-nationals within the mining community. He added that other interested parties may attend the meeting.
Chairman of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Joe Singh reiterated that point stating that the Commission was merely fulfilling its mandate to stamp out all illegal mining activities. “We welcome the Brazilians, they have been playing a very important role in the sector but we want to ensure that they do so within the confines of the law and the regulations,” he stated.
GGDMA President Patrick Harding who was also at the briefing endorsed the minister’s comments and urged miners to go about their business legally. “The Association said earlier we have a target of 400,000 ounces [of gold] and we intend to make that target. We encourage all miners to strive to that but we also encourage them to mine legally, register with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and do the right thing environmentally.”