Brazil, Guyana hope to counter illegal mining

In the wake of the arrest of 89 Brazilian miners for a number of alleged offences, Brazil and Guyana are exploring how to work closely to regularize the presence of nationals of the Portuguese-speaking nation. The decision was taken by top Guyana government officials and a high-level team following the rounding up of the Brazilians during ‘Operation El Dorado’ that is combating widespread illegal mining.

Police Chief of Criminal Investigations, Assistant Commissioner Seelall Persaud told Demerara Waves Online News ( ) that all of the Brazilians were subsequently released without prosecution. In keeping with a protocol between the two countries, the Brazilians who overstayed their time here were repatriated without being charged., Others, who were initially classified as undocumented, were allowed to remain after authorities ascertained that their applications were being processed by the Home Affairs Ministry.

“Operation El Dorado” which was held from April 10 to 15 to stop illegal mining and related activities in the Puruni are, Region 7, netted 94 foreign miners for allegedly breaching the mining, environment and/or immigration laws. Authorities said in most cases, those workers had no work-permits, no certificate of registration and in some cases expired visas. In addition, 32 local miners breached the mining regulations.

A statement quoted the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud as telling the Brazilian delegation from Roraima State that he welcomed efforts ti “examine a joint effort to ensure Brazilian miners are registered and engaged in sustainable mining activities and comply with national laws.” Guyana, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, has agreed to work closely with the Government of Guyana and the Brazilian Embassy to provide necessary support to Brazilians to regularize their activities.

The team included Deputy Francisco Xingu, President of the Commission Roraima’s Legislative Assembly (Human Rights), Deputy Francisco de Sales Guerra Neto, President Legislative Assembly of Roraima State, Deputy Cornel Chagas, Member of Public Service & Security, and Ms. Leila King, Guyana Consul General to Boa Vista.

Operation El Dorado, government said, involved inspection of mining camps and operations to determine the status of the property being worked, verification of mining privileges and certificate of registration for persons employed, inspection of the requisite documentation, including dredge licenses and production books, sanitation, environmental and occupational health and safety compliance.

Also, the Guyana Police Force’s Tactical Services Unit team checked for guns, ammunition and drugs, while an immigration team checked the status of foreign workers. Additionally, two river based operations breached the ‘Cease Work’ order and continued working the river banks which is prohibited according to the mining regulations, while gold production records were incomplete and in some cases non-existent.

Mining on prospecting Permit and Prospecting Licence property occurred contrary to the regulations. The operation also found mining on the prohibited river bank buffer zones, while the Guyana Police Force discovered an illegal firearm. A quantity of raw gold that was illegally obtained was seized, the Ministry of Natural Resources said.

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) has been urging the authorities to step up its campaign on illegal mining.

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