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Tuesday, August 31, 2004
 

 

AN ADDRESS BY

HON. SAMUEL A. HINDS, PRIME MINISTER

REPUBLIC OF GUYANA

AT THE OPENING OF THE MINING WEEK EXHIBITION

UMANA YANA, 2004-08-23.

 

SALUTATION:

 

Chairperson

Colleague Ministers Nokta, Rodriques

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Members of the Board - GGMC

Employees - GGMC

Miners, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am pleased to address you at this opening ceremony of Mining Week 2004. This is a week when we in the mining sector can and should feel proud of our achievements and contributions to the nation; a week during which we can and should proudly thump our chests as we try to share with our fellow citizens some sense of the tough life miners live, with its many and varied hardships and dangers.

Mining is a primary economic activity; a fundamental way of making a living and meeting Mankind's needs. We miners are aware and everyone should be aware that the materials Mankind uses are either grown or mined; and the range of application of materials mined is quite wide: all the metals we use in construction - iron and aluminum; the metals used in generating and transmitting electricity - aluminium, and copper; zinc, nickel and other special purpose metals like tantalum, molybdenum and lithium: fossil fuels - coal and petroleum are still the major source for energy and providing starting chemicals for many chemical products and man made materials; industrial minerals providing building materials - cement, sand, stone for construction of homes and roads, airports and all our infrastructure; and we would not overlook precious and semi precious metals and stones - gold and diamonds.

Mineral Resources appear to be distributed randomly and must be recovered wherever they are found. Mining by its very nature disturbs the earth but we are obliged to minimize the negative inputs and restore the mined areas to merge with the surroundings.

Miners and the mining sector in Guyana can feel justly proud that over the last years the mining sector in Guyana has provided about 15% of our national GDP. But we need a GDP that is five to ten times what we have today. We need to think of that many times larger economy that we need, the contribution that miners and mining can make to the growth and development that we all want. Growth and development are never just a scalar multiplying of what exists: inherent in growth and development is a restructuring flowing from increasing specialization, diversification and rising quality standards. Growth and Development bring changes: we in mining need to think about the changes and work with the changes.

In all countries, all across the world, at some time miners have been the pioneers initiating new communities in further lands wherever minerals are discovered. In Guyana we can think of Linden, Kwakwani and Aroaima; also Mahdia, Kurupung, Port Kaituma and Matthew Ridge as communities founded on, or boosted by mining.

We should note that mining is a wasting resource - economic, profitable reserves may be mined out within a generation. Miners and Mining communities must look to diversifying their activities from their mining base; extending skills which they may have developed in the course of mining and investing their first generation, capital accumulations into second generation branching into transportation, earth moving, construction; into agriculture, timber, wood processing, non-timber products, eco-tourism.

There are a number of successful examples in the past and there is need for many many more new ones now and in the future. We readily think of the Vieira, Correia and Pereira families. But there are many other lesser known families. I think of the modest business on the old road to Mahaica, which is named White Hole, Mahdia.

I said earlier that mining in an area is for a period lasting only as long as there are known economic reserves which can be mined profitably; as long as new rich reserves can be found; as long as there are advances in equipment and techniques for mining and mineral processing and improvements in employees' productivity and work quality which offset the upward pressures on costs as natural advantage is lost. Thus long and no longer can mining in an area be sustained. You, our miners moving from one area to another know this economic issue as well as anyone. Your recurring returns to some areas, occur as some new development makes operations there financially viable again. We have to thank the introduction of the Brazilian “lavador” for the resurgence of diamond mining in the middle Mazaruni. Lowered transportation costs with the gradual laying in of trails is an important factor.

A not unexpected example of resources running out, is the OMAI operation. I have been advised that whilst an exploration programme is being maintained, OGML has exhausted the known economic reserves. Mining is about ending; existing stockpiles would feed the mill for about eleven months, and closure operations would extend for about a further year. As in all such cases we were all hoping that new economic reserves would have been found in time to keep the OMAI operations going without interruption but now we must accept that OMAI is in a shut down mode. In just over a year there would be a fall in our gold production and declaration of about 300,000 ozs/ yr with all the implications.

What is the likelihood of replacing OMAI? Ten years ago conventional wisdom suggested that there could be another five OMAI's in Guyana, now one looks for five to ten medium sized gold operations of about 50,000 ozs/yr. We hope that there would be such developments at Peters Mine, Marudi, Tassawini, Turoparo, Aurora and Makapa.

I can mention here the reconnaissance and exploratory studies of MIGRATE MINING now GOLDSTONE RESOURCES who are in the last stages of their studies advancing the geological comparison between the Roraima Sediments and similar geological structures like the Witwaterstrand in South Africa. The Geological story is exciting in itself, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that a number of sufficiently rich paleoplacers of gold and diamonds were laid down in the Pakaraima sediment hundreds of millions of years ago and that they will be found.

Ladies and gentlemen this is a good place to say something about bauxite. Around the world there is now much excitement in the bauxite, alumina, aluminum circles as the belief takes hold that significant investments in new developments can be justified now. You would have read about RUSAL beginning a programme of studies in stages, of the technical and economic feasibility of getting into Guyana in a big way. There has also been some interest from CHINA and from companies in other countries.

When we speak of bauxite we normally think in terms of the remaining known reserves in the Upper Demerara, Berbice and Corentyne rivers, burried under 80 to 200 feet of overburden. I was surprised when an ALCAN review towards the end of the 1980's, called for a renewal of the search for new sources of bauxites close to the surface. I can say here that MIGRATE Mining, taking off from the preliminary surveys of Blakely and Bateson in the 1950's and 1960's has developed a clearer geological picture which has generated much enthusiasm about the prospects of a large lateritic bauxite mining and alumina production in the Pakaraimas.

The potential for export of sand, clay and stone has been recognized for decades - I want to commend and encourage those who continue to struggle to realize this potential.

I would like to encourage the interest in columbite-tantalite sands even though the price of the desired tantalite seems to cycle widely and rapidly.

With respect to precious stones - diamond production as declared has been rising steadily. It is significant to note that there was a doubling of declaration after the Bastos incident, ahead of the Kimberly Protocol coming into force. There has been a great increase in diamond mining for which much is owed to the Brazilian miners. We should expect auditing of our diamond production sometime, and in this regard our records should be in sufficient detail to establish for each stone or packet of stones, the property where it was recovered and the recovery equipment.

With respect to Petroleum, most of you would have seen recent projections by CGX: very enthusiastic and hopeful that economic quantities of petroleum would be found on-shore between the Berbice and Corentyne rivers. CGX deserves much credit for shifting to an onshore search after their rig was forced by the Surinamese from CGX's prime off-shore target area. CGX utilized a novel bioassay method to narrow areas for seismic surveys and now have about six primary on-shore targets where they hope to start drilling in two or three months.

Although every human activity without exception has environmental and social impacts, consequences and outcomes, the impacts, consequences and outcomes inherent in mining by its very nature, its disturbance of the earth in hitherto untouched areas, its pioneering contact with hinterland and indigenous communities, all bring special focus on mining. In this regard miners need perhaps more than others to be aware of the need to earn and maintain social acceptance. Miners must work at developing collaborations, alliances and partnerships with others in society. In this regard, looking at the audience here today I must reiterate to the GGMC and to the GGDMA, I again lament the very narrow attendance at these activities. Particularly when I compare this mining exhibition with exhibitions of other sectors, I have more a feeling of isolation of our miners and mining sector. We have to do a better job of bringing others to our Mining Exhibition.

We have to work to develop and win understanding and appreciation from others; we have to win their trust and demonstrate that we are responsive to their concerns. And we miners have some good cards. We contribute greatly to making transportation and communications more available in the hinterland. We can provide a market for locally produced products - food and timber for construction. Much of the national folklore and routes which would form the backbone of our developing nature tourism and ecotourism, would have been provided by miners and mining through the past one hundred and fifty years.

Our Miners should know too that as we work to bring growth and development all across Guyana, many historical attitudes to the interior must change. Indeed it is some years now that our Chief Parliamentary Counsel shared the view that a number of features in our Mining Laws and quite a bit of practice are archaic and may no longer be tenable, coming out of a period more than one hundred years ago when in concept the interior was seen as a different land from the coast; when one needed a reason to be in the interior and travelling between the coast and interior was somewhat like travelling to a foreign country. We must see the interior the same way we see the coastland.

We have to accept that in time the laws, practices, approaches prevailing on the coast will be what would prevail in the interior. Miners would need to become more aware that their mining properties provide to them subsurface rights - others may well hold the surface rights. It is already a number of years since a lady (not Amerindian), knocked on my door at about 3:00 p.m. She had left her homestead, below Amatuk falls before “day clean”, paddled her canoe to Pamela Landing, taken a 4 x 4 to Mahdia and then a minibus to Georgetown. And why this trip? A few days earlier a miner had started hosing down her cassava patch, and showed her a paper from the GGMC which he claimed gave that land to him and the right to hose down her cassava beds. We don't gain friends that way - we ought not to win friends that way.

Miners are not excluded from holding surface rights but like any other person would need to approach the appropriate Agencies - Lands and Surveys, Forestry Commission, Ministry of Agriculture, CHPA - depending on the particular interest. Such application would be justified and processed according to the rules and practices of those Agencies. We in the Mining Sector need to work with the other agencies to develop pragmatic, practical, evolving rules to manage the relationships between those who hold surface rights and those who hold subsurface rights.

In the same vein of updating and modernizing laws, practices and relationships, I would like to draw the attention of miners and the mining sector to the process underway of updating our Amerindian Laws. Conceptual drafts are now available for review and comments. In particular the new law will enact this administration's practice of the last ten years, that whilst reserving subsurface rights in the hands of the State, no subsurface rights will be granted by the State within the boundaries of Amerindian Villages without the approval of the Amerindian Village. Standard procedures and contracts are to be presented for mining within the boundaries of Amerindian Villages.

I could not deliver an address such as this without speaking to environmental issues, in particular the turbidity in our streams, creeks and rivers downstream of many mining areas and the appearance of wasted land where there has been land-dredging/hydraulicking. At an industry meeting earlier in this year it was agreed that it was reasonable, it was attainable within a year, to end turbid water reaching our streams. It was also agreed that we can and should set our sights on replacing land dredging/hydraulicking with dry methods of stripping and mining, within five years. Last week I completed a letter to the GGMC and the industry mandating that by December 31, 2005, all waters leaving any mining operation should have a turbidity not exceeding 50 NTU, and establishing a Critical Turbidity level of 30 NTU downstream of any mining. Critical Turbidity in a stream will demand a reviewing of the contribution of upstream mining to the turbidity seen and would cause consideration of lowering the allowable discharge levels if necessary.

The above numbers come out of our experience on the Upper Mazaruni in March 2001, towards the end of an intensely dry period when the upper Mazaruni from Kamarang upwards was entirely muddy. Nothing less could be done but to order all mining operations upstream to cease working. Under such a command and with surprisingly favourable mining conditions the tailings slurry disposal of eleven operations were rearranged so that water existing those operations were clarified and production restored in two to three weeks. Only one operation could not resume production then. Unfortunately our mining sector has not built on that good experience.

As Mining Week this year comes on us we can see as at all places and times, opportunities and challenges. The biggest challenge is to change our frame of thinking, changing our life styles. We in mining need to stop and turn back STD's, HIV/AIDS, Malaria and the use of Narcotic Drugs. A more disciplined life style is key to eliminating these scourges. Miners still live lives of significant deprivation and hardships and for what purpose - if not to provide a living for our families who for the most part we must live away from. Returning home with STD's, HIV/AIDS, Malaria and/or a drug habit is to return home as a big burden, even a great deadly danger rather than with the benefits of hard earned money. A more thoughtful, disciplined lifestyle is essential and we should advocate good living.

I end this address paying tribute to the lately departed, competent geologist and friend, Maurice Hamilton, whose career included periods with the GGMC, with the bauxite industry, as a miner himself and as consultant. Indeed he was being sought by a number of companies even as he was in hospital - we all expected to

have him back with us. I was hoping to pursue with him his suggestion for a study of our Corapina clays to see whether any alumina enrichment (silica depletion) had occurred in any areas and if so was it extensive enough to make the material attractive for non-metallurgical, even metallurgical use.

With the memory of Maurice Hamilton fresh in my mind, I formally declare Mining Week 2004 open.

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‘Jagdeo eager to bring the existing voters list up-to-date' – Carter

Georgetown , GINA, August 31, 2004

Former US President Jimmy Carter has recognized the willingness of President Bharrat Jagdeo in releasing the full potential of Guyana 's human resources, among other initiatives. This was publicized in a statement Mr. Carter issued on August 19, following his visit to Guyana days earlier.

“ Guyana is blessed with extraordinary human and natural resources, which President Jagdeo and other leaders are struggling heroically to utilize,” he said.

The Head of the Carter Centre, who has observed elections in Guyana before, also noted the President's sentiments on continuous voter registration.

“Jagdeo is eager to bring the existing voters' list up-to-date and to continue this process through the 2006 election. The US Government and other donors have offered financial assistance, and he is willing to have them suggest a list of organizations to be given supervisory responsibility and for the Opposition (PNCR) to make the choice and to have complete access to the list for any necessary changes. This seems fair,” Mr. Carter said.

According to him, President Jagdeo requested that the Carter Center send an expert “to help draft comprehensive legislation, requiring full disclosure of all contributions made to political parties and how funds are expended. He also wishes assistance in the drafting of an access to information law similar to what we have done in Jamaica and Ecuador . We will pursue this,” Carter added.

Mr. Carter's statement also reflected the President's view on the Elections Commission, noting that President Jagdeo feels the present Carter/Price system (three members from each major party plus a neutral chairman) should be satisfactory through the next election and that the chairman needs to be more forceful in taking charge of the issues.

On the issue of implementation of the National Development Strategy, Mr. Carter was told that 90 percent of the recommendations have been implemented, and that Government is ready to have Parliament consider the remaining points.

President Jagdeo also reassured Mr. Carter of Government's commitment to the May 6, 2003 , Communiqué that was signed between the President and Opposition Leader Robert Corbin, “and he (President Jagdeo) awaits participation from the PNCR in passing laws accordingly.

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Education Month promotes efficiency

 

Georgetown , GINA, August 31, 2004

“Managing Education Delivery Effectively and Efficiently” is the theme of this year's Education Month. This was announced by the Chief Education Officer, Ed Caesar today at a media conference at the National Center for Educational Research Development (NCERD).

Education Month activities will take place in seven regions across Guyana . For Region One Inter Faith Services, School Rallies in Sub Regions, Spelling Bee Competitions, JOF Haynes Debating Competitions and Open Day for parents will be held from August 30 to September 24.

In Region Two, Tree planting, Home Visits and Compound Development are among the activities planned for September 1 to October 8. As for Regions Three, Four, Five ,Six and Seven some of the main activities are Exhibitions on Amerindian Heritage, Teachers in Concert, Children's Rallies, Regional Award Ceremonies, Knock out Quiz Competitions, Essay Competitions, Environmental Day Observances, Inter school Quiz Competitions, Reading Competitions and Open Day / Visual Arts Exhibitions.

Bonita Hunter, Senior Education Officer said that teachers who have retired within the past ten years will be featured in this year's Education Month. Those who showed dedication, persistence and commitment will be featured in the newspapers from September 6.

The Chief Education Officer appealed to parents to support their children “We are encouraging parents to participate”, in Education Month activities.

“We want education month 2004 to be remembered”, Mr. Caesar noted.

Revival of Moral Standards Crusade and Teachers Appreciation Day are among the activities planned for Georgetown .

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President Jagdeo for meeting with Guyanese community in Florida

 

Georgetown , GINA, August 31, 2004

President Bharrat Jagdeo is set to meet Guyanese and friends of Guyana in Orlando , Florida tomorrow, September 1.
The President , according to the Caribbean Sun, will meet nationals at a Townhall meeting set for the Embassy Suites Orlando Hotel, from 7 p.m.
Organizer of the town meeting, radio host Ricky Singh, said the Guyanese Leader will take the opportunity to update Guyanese on developments in Guyana, discuss investment opportunities and issues of concern.
The Guyana delegation for the meeting includes Presidential Political Adviser Kellawan Lall and Presidential Adviser on Investment, Maniram Prashad.
The Head of State is also expected to participate in the launching of the Florida Chapter of the Association of Concerned Guyanese (ACG).

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Shadick offers her Ministry's support

 

Georgetown , GINA, August 31, 2004

Minister within the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, Bibi Shadick has visited the homes of recent victims of crime on the East Coast.

Yesterday Minister Shadick visited the homes of the late Ramesh Sewsankar of Lusignan and Anthony Parsram of Annandale . These men were killed in separated robbery attempts in their villages on Sunday.

during the visits, Shadick, along with members of her Ministry, made a commitment to assist the two families with their expenses

Head of The Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon; Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport and acting Minister of Home Affairs, Gail Teixiera; PPP General Secretary, Donald Ramotar; and ‘C' Division Commander Krishna Lakeraj also visited residents terrorized by bandits recently.

Residents of Coldingen have also been victims of similar terrorist activities.

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NIS seminar set for Human Services employees

 

Georgetown , GINA, August 31, 2004

The Women's Affairs Bureau (WAB) and the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security have organized a National Insurance Scheme (NIS) benefits seminar for employees of the Ministry.

The seminar is scheduled for September 9 at the Ministry.

This is the third in a series held in other Ministries to inform employees about their rights and benefits.

A number of seminars on the Discrimination Act and Labour Laws have already been held and were well attended.

According to Administrator of the Women's Affairs Bureau, Hymawattie Lagan, “People need to know their rights.”

The WAB has also organized a number of programmes, including an economic empowerment programme, for women at the Guyana Women's Leadership Institute, Carnegie School of Home Economics and the Institute of Private Enterprise Development . The WAB will also be participating in Guyexpo: A call to Eldorado II, at the Sophia Exhibition Centre next month.

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