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Guyana may open up ‘pristine’ lands for gold mining

Published:Wednesday | November 9, 2016 | 11:00 AM

CMC:

The Guyana government is considering opening up pristine mining areas even as it has allotted more than 200 plots of mining land to small miners since August through the Closed Areas Committee (CAC), a senior official has said.

CAC chair, Dela Britton, told miners that 235 applicants have been approved for mining blocks.

The CAC was established by the Ministry of Natural Resources in February to address small miners' need for land.

"A block constitutes 422 acres and so that is where we are. (We are) are still in the process of distributing those lands," Britton said, noting that these mining lands are within Guyana's six mining districts.

"We cannot guarantee that the block allotted will bear fruit; we cannot tell you whether it is rich in minerals or whatever form of mineral," he added, while noting the Ministry of Natural Resources has been issuing a disclaimer to applicants who have received lands.

Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman, said investigations were done to ensure the lands are still productive.

"We know that there are minerals in those areas. Yes, I think that there is gold. We will not give areas where there is no gold at all," Trotman said. "We're only recovering about 40 per cent of gold on a spot and so many miners are going back."

Previously, lands were allotted to miners through a lottery system.

"Many of them have complained to me that it's either swamp land, sand," the minister said. "Some people said lands were up in the mountains, so we've tried to reform. I think we've tried not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to ensure that when a person gets land they get something that they had a hand in identifying."

He adds that Cabinet is examining "whether or not we open up new pristine areas" for mining.

In the meantime, the boundaries for six mining districts in Guyana have been set.

Last month, Trotman said Guyana's gold production is set to surpass 600,000 ounces, well ahead of the initial target of 550,000 ounces.

Gold production in 2014 amounted to 385,000 ounces.

"In 2015, we took it to 456,000 ounces and in this year, we will take it to over 600,000 ounces that is our promise."

So far this year, gold production of 545,742 ounces has been declared up to end of October.