The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) will soon see a change in its organisational pattern as a new commissioner will be appointed within a few weeks. Minister of the newly established Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry Robert Persaud on Thursday met with the members of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) at the association’s final meeting of the year and made this announcement.
Persaud also said that a mining school will soon be set up here. He told the miners gathered that the time has come for the GGMC to be restructured. “All of us know that the GGMC needs some level of re-organisation and it is a process that preceded my ministry or my being appointed minister of natural resources and the environment. It is a matter that has been engaging the attention of the Cabinet for a while; there has been the GGMC management committee… looking at how it is we can further improve the operations and effectiveness of the GGMC.” He noted that the Bharrat Jagdeo administration was unable to accomplish its reorganisation plans.
“We have not been able to bring about the type of reorganisation then, but I want to give you the assurance that we intend to be much more focused on that task, and within the matter of weeks, we will be appointing, no harm done to work of Ms Livan, but we will be appointing a new commissioner of the GGMC,” said Persaud. The minister said other appointments will be made soon as there are currently three senior personnel within the GGMC who are coming of retirement age. “We will also be looking at the structure of the GGMC too, because… the organisation itself needs to be organised to suit the changes and what is taking place, we cannot have a 20th century organisation serving a 21st century sector, it is an injustice to you, an injustice to the sector and also the personnel within the GGMC is at a disadvantage – and whatever remarks I make here are not condemnatory of the performance and the hard work of those who operate within the GGMC but rather, it is highlighting what we all need to do in this regard.”
Persaud stressed that while the ministry will undertake to restructure the GGMC, the job should not be left to it solely. He noted that the task must be tackled in a collaborative manner. “We intend to do this reorganisation in a collaborative way. We intend to be involved with as much stakeholders [as possible] and [have] your input in this regard; this will not be a cut-down approach, but rather a lot of listening and interaction, but at the end of the day we need to have a commission that is suited to today’s reality and one that is suited to today’s reality would be suited to your own enterprises and your own business,” he remarked.
Minister Persaud, who has taken over from Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who, for the past 10 years, had held ministerial powers for the mining sector, said he is not oblivious to the many issues facing the miners and the mining sector. He noted that there must be collaboration and collectiveness in solving those issues. “The specific issues that you have raised with regard to the GGMC functioning, these I am aware of and have been aware of and certainly, we will have to work on them together.” He, however, stressed that while he will be working with all stakeholders to ensure that all issues are resolved in a timely fashion, all stakeholders must be cognisant of their actions and the effect those actions would have on the sector.
“I want to be quite upfront, persons cannot complain of unfair treatment when we know for ourselves that we have efforts by certain individuals to also manipulate and create that unfair system. I am trying to be as diplomatic as I can, but you know what I am talking about. On the one hand, the association and the members cannot condemn GGMC staff for not being professional and not being fair and at the same time we also have, and I know of efforts to pervert, to disrupt the professional organisation. I want all of us to recognise that fact and I want to make it absolutely clear that while you would expect the GGMC to be performing with the highest level of professionalism, we also expect that through your membership conduct, you would contribute to that high level of professionalism.” “That is something that I want to put up front in this regard, because we are aware of what is taking place. I am aware of what is happening, I may not be aware of all that is happening, but we have a fair idea with what is happening with the GGMC and also some of the occurrences.”
Persaud also announced that a mining school would be established here so as to ensure that the mining sector is fully equipped with knowledgeable human resources to conduct activities according to international standards. “[I want to give] you a commitment that the time has come for us to have a mining school in Guyana, not only in terms of extraction of minerals but also in terms of the future for oil and gas and so I want to say that we have started discussions with the Canadian government and I have already approached it with the GGDMA executive whereby we want to collaborate.”
A location has been identified and ideas have been placed on the table, the minister stated, noting that a representative of the Commonwealth Secretariat will be visiting Guyana on January 12 to “do a total review, both starting with the GGMC, in terms of the institutional capacity building ,but also looking at the wider needs. We also want you to be involved in this process.” Persaud said, “There is absolutely no doubt that we have a severe human resources deficiency to take the sector where it should be and allow us to deal with these challenges you have identified which I don’t see us having any difficulties with.”
Amidst the growing incidence of problems facing miners and the mining sector, the production of gold continues to climb. GGDMA President Patrick Harding made it known that gold production stands at 340,000 ounces, surpassing the target set for 2011 – 320,000 ounces. Harding stressed that the mining sector has been at the forefront of the country’s success as it relates to the gross domestic product (GDP) and will continue to soar once the conditions for mining here are improved. “We are looking at an industry that has been at the forefront and we know that we miners will continue to make commitments of ensuring that the mining industry continues to be the best. However, as we know, there are certain matters that we will face come 2012,”he said.
Miners were given an opportunity to express their concerns that ranged from small-scale miners being unable to survive and the inability of the GGMC to address issues in a timely manner to the phasing out of the use of mercury to recover gold. Minister Persaud promised to investigate all matters brought to his attention.