PRESS RELEASE ON MINAMATA CONVENTION ON MERCURY

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association [GGDMA] notes with concern that laboratory test on several workers of the GGMC and the GGB confirmed mercury levels in their blood that were above the internationally accepted levels. We wish each worker a speedy recovery.

The GGDMA sees this industrial accident as a result of contributory negligence on the part of the Gold Board since proper checks and procedures should have been in place to monitor fugitive mercury emissions. The GGDMA is disturbed by the description of mercury as a “scourge” because of its use in the gold recovery process, mercury is an necessary tool in the small and medium scale miners toolbox however it must be used and handled in a responsible manner.

The Gold Board contamination is a more of an issue of carelessness since industry best practices and technologies for the control and capture of mercury emissions from the Gold Board’s facilities were not installed and the monitoring and maintaining protocols of the scrubbers installed in its systems was neglected or non-existence. The GGDMA calls upon the government to ensure that proper safety measures are in place through standard operating procedures [SOPs] at its facilities to ensure a safe environment for all Guyanese as they conduct business daily.

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association reaffirms its commitment to the Minamata Convention on Mercury and reiterates its call for the government to step forward with strong technical assistance to small and medium scale miners, to ensure sustainable development principles are applied to the gold and diamond mining sector.
The Association once again highlights the need for the government to identify improved mercury free gold recovery technologies and techniques which can lead to achievement of the objectives of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

The GGDMA as a responsible entity in the mining sector, fully endorses the objective and purposes of the Convention and fully supports the measures in Article 7 and in Annex “C” of the said Convention. The GGDMA recognizes, however, that the Convention specifically requires that “Each Party that has artisanal and small-scale gold mining and processing, subject to this article within its territory shall take steps to reduce, and where feasible eliminate, the use of mercury and mercury compounds in, and the emissions and releases to the environment of mercury from such mining and processing.”

It is clear that the requirement to determine the economic and technical feasibility of eliminating mercury use in gold mining in Guyana depends heavily on strong support from government. The GGDMA re-emphasis that best practices have to be sought based on what is appropriate, adoptable, and most cost effective for the geographical and geological environments in which our small and medium scale miners operate in Guyana.

Government is expected to put its best mining engineers and mineral processing engineers out in the field with the miners to find solutions. The GGDMA is of the view that with clear direction, quality equipment, and adequate funding, the GGMC professionals can determine the feasibility of eliminating mercury from gold mining.

The GGDMA respectfully suggest that the government should approve of the GGMC being allocated G$2.0 billion in 2018 for the acquisition of quality equipment and the conducting of test work for the determination of the feasibility of eliminating the use of mercury in mining and processing in Guyana.

The GGDMA looks forward to strong collaboration with the GGMC as we work towards achievement of the objective and purposes of the Convention and the recovery in gold mining using economic and technically feasible mercury free systems. Further, the GGDMA looks forward to the finalization of an acceptable National Action Plan in accordance with Annex “C” of the Convention and the published Mining Policy of Guyana.

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