The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association [GGDMA] has secured a legal opinion by independent counsel which reaffirms that the previous action by Ministers responsible for Mines and Minerals, the Boards and Commissioners of the Guyana Geology & Mines Commission (GGMC) since 1994, in allowing portions of or all the lands held in valid Prospecting Licenses held by Guyanese to be marked of and applied for as Mining Permits [Medium Scale], is legal and grounded in the Mining Act and the Regulations.
The GGDMA further submits while, as mentioned earlier, this has been happening since 1994 that there was no publication of notice to the public that the applications and subsequent grants of the Mining Permits under Section 35 of the Regulations, were illegal, unlawful or offended the Mining Act of 1989.
The GGDMA accepts the right of the Minister under Section 133 of the Mining Act 65:01 to exempt anyone from the provisions of the Act in order to give effect to any Mining Policy the Minister desires to put in force. We note with concern, that the actions of some senior staff at the GGMC seem to suggest that they reject this right of the Minister to exempt. We are advised that the staff of the GGMC appear to reject the decisions of the Commissioner and challenge his right to implement Policy as stated by the Minister. We know that the GGMC Act gives the Minister the right to advise the Commissioner on Mining Policy to be implemented.
The GGDMA categorically rejects the ongoing, inordinate delays in processing of the requested applications. We reiterate that the GGMC has an implied duty to process applications without undue delay; some applications are pending for more than 24 months. A deliberate attempt at maximum administrative delay could not have been worse.
The GGDMA also categorically rejects the suggestions of the Commissioner that applications for conversion must be tied to performance criteria set by the staff, Commissioner, or Board of the GGMC. The GGDMA is advised that the only criterion for conversion is that the PL must be in force. We are further advised that if the PL holder is in default, he is notified in writing by the GGMC of the default and is requested to remedy same. The performance criteria, we submit, impinge on the performance bond and due process related thereto. The PL continues in force until cancelled by the competent authority. The PL holder must not be subjected to administrative dicta which result in frustration of the PL Holder.
The GGDMA welcomes the recent decision by the GGMC to offer a waiver of interest on monies owed by medium scale miners for late payment of rent. We recognize that this amnesty follows a rich tradition by the GGMC to give meaningful support to the mining sector. We note that such positive actions flow from an understanding of the vagaries of the sector. Likewise, we commend the Minister for his Policy which provided special approval, by way of Order, for small miners in need to obtain special mining permits from the Closed Area Reserve. We too are of the view that from time miners need a helping hand and even now some of our larger miners have begun lending sums of money to syndicate members to assist them to get back on their feet.
Yes, we are not interested in burying the wounded. We therefore, call on our mining administrators to continue to temper justice with mercy as we pursue development of the mining industry in particular and Guyana as a whole.
The GGDMA re-states its commitment to a continued mutually beneficial and harmonious working relationship with the Government, the senior Minister responsible for Mines and Minerals, the Junior Minister in the Ministry of Natural Resources, the staff of the Ministry, the Board of Directors and Commissioner and his staff of the GGMC.