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GGMC swoops down on illegal mining operations

first_imgThree mining operations were slapped by cease work orders by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC). The move came after complaints from Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) communities about river pollution.According to GGMC, visits were carried out to the Region Nine communities of Karasabai and Yurongperu, and Monkey Mountain in Region Eight. The visits, spanning three days, were carried out by a team from the Natural Resources Ministry, the GGMC and the Environmental Protection Agency.The visit was initiated after Chairman of Region Nine, Brian Allicock complained of the illegal operations early in February.Allicock had raised the issue of alleged illegal mining activities, which were alleged to be the cause of water pollution.Among the teams’ findings were that the turbidity levels in the Echilebar River exceeded 30 Nephelometric Turbidity Unit, the recommended limit in the mining regulations. It was also determined by the officers on the ground that the turbidity levels were as a result of the mining operations.It was found that those operations were ongoing without the requisite permission from the GGMC. It was also determined that the persons working the operations were doing so after receiving verbal permission from a ranger employed by the claimholder – a violation of the GGMC’s regulations.“As a result, the GGMC issued Cease Work Orders to two operations in one location on the left bank of the Echilebar River and to one other operation farther inland. The mining activities were all taking place in the drainage basin of the Echilebar River, which discharges into the Ireng River that borders Brazil.”But the regulatory body also had a stern warning. According to GGMC, “the Ministry of Natural Resources and the GGMC are in receipt of information which suggests that many claim-holders are granting small miners verbal permission to work their claims without seeking the prior approval of the GGMC.”GGMC warned that both it and the Natural Resources Ministry will be taking “strong action” against these miners, adding that many of them are prominent miners.The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission sets out strict regulations for mining operators. Included in these regulations are stipulations for disposal of overburden, waste produce and refilling dug pits.Legislatively, Section 127 of Mining Act 1989 empowers the Commission to serve a mining operator with notice to provide data and documents relating to their operation and to answer all of GGMC’s questions. This is normally enforced in the event of an accident. It is an offence not to comply.Miners have been known to continue their operations, clandestinely if necessary, in the face of these measures and cease work orders.last_img

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