The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association [GGDMA] is surprised by the recent comparison between gold and oil, made by the Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin at a recent oil and gas seminar hosted by the Private Sector Commission [PSC]. The contribution made by the Hon. Minister between the historical contribution of the gold mining sector and the projected contribution of the emergent Oil and Gas Sector, in defending the PSC with Exxon-Mobil, has had the collateral damage effect of him seeming to belittle the historical contribution of the gold mining sector.
Now that Minister Gaskin has brought up the comparison of the revenue from oil with the revenue from gold it might be worthwhile to extend the comparison to the investment terms governing the oil sector vis-à-vis those governing the small and medium scale gold sector. The local miners might produce eight times as much as they do now if they have unlimited duty free concessions on all equipment and spares together with full write off of exploration expenditures and a generous stability clause as the icing on the cake. Of course good public roads in the interior is a must. Not to forget the technical assistance to improve the gold recovery from 30% to over 80%. The GGDMA would welcome Minister Gaskin’s support of these investment terms for the local Gold and Diamond Mining Sector.
In acknowledging the fundamental importance of the Gold and Diamond Mining Sector to Guyana’s economy, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association [GGDMA] wishes to enlighten the general public of the significant contributions the sector has made over the years towards the country’s financial and socio-economic development.
A recent 2016 report by the International Council on Mining on Metals (ICMM), the Mining Contribution Index (MCI) affirmed Guyana’s overwhelming dependence on Mining in the National Economy. Figure 1 shows the top ten mineral dependent countries based on the Mining Contribution Index.
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Figure 1. Showing Guyana within the top 10 Mineral Dependent Countries
Source: ICMM, MCI, Third Edition. Pg.2. https://www.icmm.com/website/publications/pdfs
Over the past decade, mining has been the most significant contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Guyana. The sector continues to play an important role in the national and local economies through the foreign exchange it generates, revenues to the state, direct and indirect employment it provides for indigenous villages and other interior settlements. In addition, a significant number of youth from urban areas and depressed coastland villages, many of whom are the main breadwinners for their families, find jobs in the mining sector.
The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association [GGDMA] heartily commends miners for their outstanding contribution to the economy of Guyana during 2017. Once again local miners produced over sixty-five percent  % of the gold produced in Guyana. These local miners also provided jobs for urban, rural and interior residents while facilitating commerce in Georgetown and in each of the six  mining districts. Local aircraft owners benefited from charters from their Ogle hub to each of the six mining districts; local boat owners benefitted from charters from their hub at Bartica and Parika to the Mazaruni, Cuyuni, and Potaro mining districts.
Land transportation owners benefited from charters from hubs in in Georgetown, Linden, Bartica, Matthews Ridge, Port Kaituma, Lethem among others. In addition, the tremendous amount of spin-off the Mining Sector creates such as purchases of fuel, hardware, groceries and vegetables cannot be overemphasized. Thus the Gold and Diamond Mining sector supports heavily most of the small local sectors which is maximized.
During these particularly challenging times, with a downturn of sugar and sluggish performance of rice and timber, mining performance remains stellar. As old people say “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush” hence, it is in the opinion of GGDMA that any rational individual who recognizes the significance of the industry will place some amount of emphasis on safeguarding its integrity.
With Oil on the horizon, Minister Gaskin seems to have forgotten all about the Gold and Diamond Mining Sector.
How unfortunate, when it was the gold and diamond mining sector that was the backbone of Guyana’s economy over the past 10 years. Is it a case where the Minister is forsaking tried and true [Mining and Agriculture] for the shiny and new [Oil and Gas]? It certainly looks so!
The GGDMA is quite concerned about the future of the sector and believe that the government should pay more attention to the industry that continues to be the backbone of the economy. The GGDMA wonders if just in anticipation the oil revenue has caused Guyana to contract “Dutch Disease”; why are you going to kill existing industry pillars all for the sake of the many promises of oil? May be they have placed a lot of focus on the oil and gas sector and green transformation without foreseeing the crippling of the mining industry that has supported the economic growth and stability of our dear country, Guyana.
Mining by small and medium scale Miners continue to be the main thrust in supporting economic development, social development and poverty eradication. Hence GGDMA calls upon the policy makers to ensure that priority areas are addressed.
The GGDMA also ask these questions “What percentage of ordinary Guyanese stand to benefit from the Oil and Gas sector?” How soon will ordinary Guyanese reap the benefits, if any, from the Oil and Gas sector?”
The GGDMA remains steadfast to promote and protect the rights interest and welfare of all miners.
In concluding the Minister of Business will agree that just about all of the Senior Government Official have found time to be seen in the company with the Oil and Gas players, what about some time for the local Gold and Diamond Mining Sector!