Guyana – Trotman says 2016 is year to ‘straighten out’ mining sector

Trotman plans to bury corruption — says 2016 is year to ‘straighten out’ mining sector

Governance Minister Raphael Trotman

Natural Resources  Minister Raphael Trotman

 RECAPPING his initial six months in office, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, described it as challenging and a “trying, difficult process of bringing things in order”.He described what was inherited as “disorder, not only in (the) mining sector and forestry, but in other places”.

He praised his staff as willing, adding that they were all working to pull things together.

In regard to the mining sector, Minister Trotman said he, like many others, viewed the industry with a “sense that things were not right”, despite the glamour and glitz that is often associated with it. He noted that there were all kinds of anecdotes, such as “bribes being paid; small miners being run off land; and processing of papers taking weeks, instead of being done in days”.  

With more than 451,000 ounces being declared, surpassing the yearly target, he said, mining remains lucrative, but regulation and management of the sector need improving.

“We are taking steps to improve not just the substance, but the image of the mining process,” he declared.

Minister Trotman revealed that, a few weeks prior, an inference was brought to his attention that his signature to approve duty-free concessions for miners was worth some US$3,000. He said, “I discovered this, and it was quite a shock. These are things we are chasing down; and if need be, the police will have to be brought in”.

He emphasised that order would be brought to the sector, noting that, “It’s not going to be done overnight, but it is a process that is going to be done and we are going to see it through in 2016”.

Corruption remains a challenge, he said, and no effort will be spared to “keep it down”, the Minister said, “It is not easy, as even when you have dealt with A, C and D are going to pop up somewhere”.

He said that major focus is being placed on the affairs of small miners, to ensure they also have a “fair share of the pie”. He added that their plight is one that has resonated with him. “They come here, and some of them are literally in tears. Many of them are very frustrated, and some of them, I can see, have been pushed to their limits. I can see some of them either contemplating suicide or even murder, because they just feel pushed”.

The larger operators in the sector will also be catered for, he noted. He named Aurora and Troy Resources as two investments of several in the sector that were welcomed. “We will make sure they are happy too, and that they function well here,” he declared.

JOB CREATION
The two companies are a boost to the local economy with the creation of jobs, capacity building, technology transfer, and cascading benefits.

Guyana stands to benefit from what Minister Trotman described as better deals in regard to the multi-million-US-dollar investments. “We want to make sure that taxes are paid, they respect the workers’ rights, they pay them benefits; their mining practices are safe,” he said.

Government has taken a “hands-on approach”, and there are regular visits to the investment sites, he added. “We have been on the ground. We are quite impressed with the technology being brought to bear. We are impressed with the fact that Guyanese are getting jobs. We are impressed with their shipments; and they are paying their royalties on time, so thing are working out, and we are paying close attention”.

The fact that mining will disrupt the environment is a given, and government is moving to ensure that the mining sector lessens its impact on the environment, according to Minister Trotman. He said, “We have got to ensure that it is done to a minimum, with improved mining techniques so that we can recover more gold from mining locations, rather than have a multiplicity of spots. You might recover 40% from this hole and then move on, when a technique (can be applied) that would actually give you 70 to 80 % (recovery),” he said.

The restoration of mining sites is also a cause for concern, and strong action will be taken in this regard, Minister Trotman said. “Miners mine and they move on. The rivers get polluted and there are gaping holes left in the land, and there is an Environmental Bond that is only $100,000. We will be reviewing that”.

Miners will soon pay a bond that is more realistic and commensurate with their action, scope and size of operation, he explained.

Mining will also be done in the future in zoned areas, and not in a capricious manner, the Minister said.

Staff efficiency will be improved to better have them serve the stakeholders; and this, Minister Trotman said, will boost the sector.

“Maybe with some training, which we want to improve on, and with a little more encouragement, we could move to about 80%. Yes, more staff may be needed, but we will get greater potential from the existing staff,” he said.

Staffers are willing to work, and now they have a clear vision as to where they will go, he added.

Petroleum sector
Looking at the petroleum sector, Minister Trotman said that Exxon discovery is the major investor that will benefit “generations for years to come”. Their find has resulted in increased interest from other petroleum companies, and the coalition government intends to see that Guyanese benefit.

“We will be looking at local content, making sure there are sufficient Guyanese involved that are trained. There are scholarships, working on the service side. We want more local involvement…we want to know there are petroleum engineers, boat captains, and we have environmental specialists and we have the people who supply the chicken and the greens and the water. At every level, we have got to do some work,” he said.

The coming year will see closer collaboration with the Business Ministry as government seeks to unveil opportunities for Guyanese.

The President of Exxon/ Mobil is also scheduled to visit Guyana for talks with President David Granger and government officials, the Minister revealed.

“The fact that Exxon is the largest company in the world tells you that there is something special here. We are working on that, and we hoping that we get closer and closer to production,” he disclosed.

 

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Comments

  • de castro  On January 5, 2016 at 3:21 am

    Very interesting comments by the honourable gentleman.
    Applaud his stand on the “anti corruption” campaign.
    Let’s hope laws are soon introduced and an anti corruption
    bill brought to parliament for public debate…..
    The minister touched on the “exon” find but only briefly
    hope to hear more on this development….finer details
    with transparency and openess as promised prior to being
    elected. As have expressed my concerns before on the
    benefit to Guyana and the Guyanese people
    Venezuela reserve declared at over 300B barrels and Guyana s
    find in region of 700B how will this one play out.
    Not wishing to dampen the enthusiasm of the right
    honourable gentleman…hope to read more on the subjects
    sooner than later.
    Thanks to GOL for article in chronicle…daily rabble.(‘-‘)

  • de castro  On January 7, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Editors comments to “straighten out” was noticeable…..did the honourable gentleman use those words ?
    Or did he say “sort out” ……words in editorials can be “mis-used”…distorting facts.

    ‘WAR’ on cirruption is what I wish to read or hear minister say.

    The battle the struggle.
    Que sera

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