…calls them “new hustlers” seeking lands
Although not offering its full support the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) on Tuesday extended “best wishes” to the newly formed syndicates that have popped up across the country even as it sought to clarify its position on a number of issues.
In a nine page press statement, GDDMA said there have been attempts by some to demonise the association creating the impression that it does not represent the small man only the big miners. Though this contention is not new, GGDMA said it is public knowledge that it has long called on Government to make mineralised lands available to small miners. “We have often highlighted that millions of acres are locked off in the Closed Area Committee that small miners can access to their benefit; it would appear that finally some provisions are being made for this to become a reality,” the association stated.
In offering congratulatory remarks to the newly formed syndicates, GGDMA expressed the hope that the beneficiaries “finally obtain the success that has eluded them.”
However, the association is of the belief that this new movement which was initiated by the Natural Resources Ministry is an attempt to divide and rule the miners in light of strong concerns raised by GGDMA and the Guyana Women Miners Organisaiton (GWMO) regarding the implications of the new tax policies on the sector. “This move by the Jnr. Minister is directly geared at fracturing the small and medium scale mining industry by taking advantage of the “crab in a barrel” mentality that unfortunately exists in the industry and thereby gaining control over a chunk of a certain scale of miners to support current and future agendas,” GDDMA contended.
This contention has been rubbished by the Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes, and the small miners who have suffered as a result of landlordism. For the small miners, this new movement provides an opportunity to empower and develop themselves.
For GGDMA, the cry of “landlordism” and the contention that GGDMA membership controls the majority of the “good lands” are nothing new. “This cry has intensified over the last few years as the price of gold had sky rocketed to record breaking heights, with many persons possessing no historic ties to the industry running into the bush to make “a quick hustle.
“In addition to these new hustlers seeking lands, there are many unsuccessful miners with long histories in the industry who are very bitter over their lack of success due to bad luck, bad investments or in many cases, “blowing out their money” on sporting, various escapades and living the high life without reinvesting sufficient funds into their mining enterprise or saving some for a rainy day,” GGDMA further contended.
Additionally, the association denied that it is in collusion with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) to acquire lands illegally. In February the Parika/Mora Small Miners Association with the backing of the Karrau and Bartica Mining Syndicates called for the removal of the GGMC Land Management Division Manager, Donald Singh, on the grounds that the division under his watch has been engaged in alleged corrupt activities with members from GDDMA. The small miners further contended that the collusion had led to the President of GDDMA, Terrence Adams, acquiring 15 Blocks of mineralised lands in Karrau.
“This is complete rubbish; if the membership of the GGDMA was benefitting from these irregularities, then why is it that the GGDMA had penned multiple letters to the Commissioner of GGMC requesting his removal long before this issue was raised at the recent meeting. Also, if we were benefitting from these irregularities and collusion, why is it that several of the GGDMA members and executives have ongoing court matters against the GGMC as a consequence of issues stemming from the land management division? To make such allegations given these facts are baseless and just another example of certain persons lashing out against others due to the misconception that others are getting some sort of sweet ride or special treatment,” the association said while asking a number of questions.
It said that there are many issues at GGMC affecting all scales of miners – small, medium and large. “We wish to state our support for the Hon. Minister of Natural Resources to take whatever actions are necessary to resolve these issues at GGMC and to deal according with ANY miner who is involved in irregularities regarding the allocation of lands.”
Amid overflowing criticisms from small miners across the country, GGDMA is maintaining that it represents the interest of the entire gold and diamond mining industry with special focus on the small and medium scale.