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|Minister warns of zero-tolerance for breaching of Mining Act regulations|
|Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:44|
…as he meets Brazilian community
THE Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment yesterday hosted an interactive session with the Brazilian community here, to discuss the mining sector and related matters, in an effort to reduce illegal mining. And it was made clear that “there will be zero-tolerance for breaching of regulations and conditions set out in the Mining Act”.
Present at the session, where a number of concerns were raised, were Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud; Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee; Chairman of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Major General Ret’d, Joseph Singh; Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Khurshid Sattaur; and Coordinator of the Brazil/Guyana Development Institute, Yucatan Reis.
Addressing the session at the Celina Restaurant, in Georgetown, Minister Persaud said, “What we are seeking to regularise is not only targeting the Brazilian community, but also targeting all non-nationals in Guyana in a very, very broad and in a very, very fair way”.
He said the Government of Guyana values the close and longstanding relationship with the government and people of Brazil, and has always recognised that both government to government, as well as private sector to private sector relationships are important, and can also bring benefits to both peoples.
Over the years, Minister Persaud said, through exchanges and interactions, the two countries have come closer together, with mining being one of the areas.
He noted that Guyana has benefitted a lot from the technologies, capital and also from the experience from its counterparts in Brazil in the area of mining.
He assured that Guyana does not underestimate the contribution of Brazilian technologies, resources and expertise in “enhancing the operations, enhancing the recovery, and certainly allowing us today to have gold mining being the largest single foreign exchange earner in our country”.
Persaud said it is also part of the government’s approach to work with friendly countries and investors, and there have been encouraging investments.
“But when we encourage these investments, we expect that the investors and the operators will comply with our national laws,” the minister underscored.
“Through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and our agency the GGMC, we are not out to target Brazilians operating in the mining sector, what we are seeking to do is to combat the increase in illegal mining, combat breaches of our Mining Act and the mining regulations, and to ensure that any irregular activity, any irregular presence, those are regularized,” he stated.
He said the reality is that the largest group of non-nationals in the mining sector is made up of Brazilians, and emphasised, “Today, I want to make it absolutely clear that there will be zero-tolerance for breaches of our regulations, and also of conditions set out in our mining Act, as it pertains to all those who operate within the mining sector”.
He made reference to Section 57 (2) under the Mining Act, which clearly states that one has to be a Guyanese citizen or a company that is registered in Guyana to conduct mining.
He explained, “That means that if you are not a Guyanese or in your case, you are a Brazilian, you cannot have, take for instance, a prospecting license or a mining permit for you to carry out operation - it is forbidden under our laws”.
As such, he said, for Brazilians to operate, they have to be sponsored or be associated with a mining establishment that fits the laws of the country, and a work permit is needed to operate and to be in compliance with the national laws.
He assured that the Minister of Home Affairs and his staff are looking at ways of accelerating the processing where it is possible, and more importantly, to deal quickly with the backlogs outstanding.
“And we will work very closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs, and also engage the Guyana/Brazil Development Institute in ensuring that that process is done, whereby we can reduce the backlog, and then the waiting time is also significantly reduced so that we don’t have an issue where a large number of persons are waiting for a long time to receive their work permits,” he committed.
“You have to come clearly with a sponsor, or we will also be recognizing you if you come under the umbrella of the Guyana/Brazil Development Institute,” Persaud made clear.
He said one will only be allowed to enter a mining district and work if he has a specific and a valid work permit.
Recognizing that there might be several hundreds of persons who, over the past several months, may be awaiting their work permits, and after discussions with the Home Affairs Minister and with representation made by the Guyana/Brazil Development Institute, a grace period will be given only for those individuals who would have made an application prior to April 30 last.
“Those individuals who would have made an application prior to April 30, we will be giving some consideration as the Ministry of Home Affairs ramps up its capacity to expedite the processing of those outstanding permits,” he said.
He warned that any GGMC Officer who encourages persons to breach these regulations will be dealt with very firmly.
“So what I am seeking, too, is your cooperation in terms of ensuring that we satisfy our national laws and the requirements,” the minister stated.
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