GUYANA: Gold and Other Mining: ‘Large-scale thievery coming’ – Opinion by Glenn Lall

Glenn Lall

– mega gold firms spell more doom for Guyana
– country has little to show for Omai, Troy Resources, RUSAL investments

Government’s announcement that three large scale gold firms are poised to set up shops here is cold comfort to Guyanese who continue to be short-changed by foreign investors, businessman and Publisher of the Kaieteur News, Glenn Lall has said.

Meanwhile, even as Dr. Singh spoke about the benefits from these possible new gold mining operations he did not disclose the names of the firms and Mr. Lall believes something is sinister in this move. “Three more larger than Omai companies coming soon. He did not name them nor did he tell us where they are coming from or what the deal is. All he said, Guyana will benefit [with slice bread money]. When a leader could tell you consider the food and other supplies, transport services and 1,000 people who gon get jobs, in which a company will fetch out billions in US dollars from we backyard, speaks of the tragedy that they are creating for us.”           

To this end Lall mockingly said Omai’s significant contribution to Guyana remains “the cyanide spill that Guyanese died from, still suffering from and got nothing from.” In fact, he believes given the heavy loss this country has suffered at the hands of foreign investors over the years it would not be too bad an idea to leave the resources unexploited until “we can find the right people to negotiate proper deals for us that will benefit this nation.” Lall made the comments last Friday evening on his radio programme “The Glenn Lall Show’ aired on Kaieteur Radio (99.1, 99.5 FM).

Speaking at the Private Sector Commission Annual General Meeting last week Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh told business leaders that at least three promising world-class, large-scale gold mining operations are to be established here soon. Regarding the gold mining operations, Dr. Singh said each of the operations will be bigger than Omai Gold Mines, one of the largest gold operations ever experienced locally. “You know how significant Omai was.

Contemplate for a moment three large scale operations, each of which is larger than Omai. Consider for a moment that each one of these will be employing more than 100 Guyanese. Consider the food and other supplies, transport services, construction, equipment supply and maintenance services and all the multiplier benefit these operations will generate,” the Finance Minister said, as he assured that the government will continue to stimulate activities in all sectors and not just oil and gas. He said emphasis will be placed on ensuring an emerging rapidly growing and highly competitive non-oil economy that will also include agriculture.

However, Mr. Lall said Guyanese should not be optimistic about the impending gold mining ventures, directing this country’s attention to the lopsided deals Guyana entered into with previous companies. “I have said from the day we discovered oil, in the quantity we did, Guyana should run out every single foreigner fetching out our natural resources, leave that for bambai, leave that in the ground where it can’t spoil for future generations and live off this new found oil, in which we can live an extremely comfortable life, equal to and better than that of an American citizen, and also save big money for future generations, if it’s done correctly,” Lall told his audience tuned in both on the radio and on the station’s social media platforms.

He urged that the authorities should concentrate on closing the loopholes in the oil contract with ExxonMobil, renegotiate the deal and Guyana will have more than enough to feed, clothe and not only develop this country but the region too. “That’s the kind of wealth we have out there. We already have foreigners, for instance in the bauxite industry, fetching out we bauxite, for over a decade and say they not making money, so why do we still have them here fetching out our resources? If they not making money after 10 years in your country, why are they still here?” the newspaper publisher questioned.

At the said AGM of the PSC, Minister Singh announced that Guyana was preparing to export manganese for the first time in 54 years. Dr. Singh told the gathering that ships docked in the North-West District are being loaded with the mineral for export. “Right now, as we speak, vessels are being loaded in the North West of Guyana with Guyana’s first shipment of manganese in 54 years,” the Finance Minister announced. He said this type of operation is important in keeping with the government’s efforts toward a diversified and resilient economy.

Lall told his audience that he had been told frequently that barges upon barges have been traversing the Demerara River in the night with lumber going to the large cargo ships waiting out in the Atlantic Ocean. “What Guyana getting? More and more damaged roads that can’t even patch, right across this country.

Who is watching out for us, who is safeguarding our wealth, who is leading this nation with its resources…?”

He said Bosai Minerals, that owns bauxite and gold concessions here, was also “part and parcel of the same group fetching out our manganese at Matthews Ridge…”
He referenced previous newspaper reports where workers complained about poor treatment at the manganese company at Matthews Ridge. “The workers complained how the Chinese are taking out NIS and PAYE from their salaries and not paying it over to the government. This is what Ashni Singh is proud to say after 54 years Guyana restarts exporting manganese and how the citizens will benefit with the slice bread money what them getting from the manganese. That is how Guyana and the citizens going to benefit from our wealth, slice bread money…” the businessman lamented.

Turning his attention to the soon-to-come large scale gold firms which Dr. Singh said will employ more than 1,000 Guyanese and each larger than Omai, Mr. Lall said the minister ought to be ashamed to mention the name Omai. “What has this nation benefitted from Omai, from Troy Resources, from Aurora Gold Mines, from Zijin, from the manganese company, from Bosai, from RUSAL and the many other foreign companies, who come and enrich their countries with our wealth, while we can’t fix a piece of mud road in any part of Guyana without going and stretching our hands, at foreign banks for loans to build roads and bridges in the interior.” He complained, “These people coming here, fetching out our rich, rich resources, building for themselves in their countries highways, skyscrapers and modern cities with modern airports, while these clowns (our leaders) running to the international banks to borrow money to renovate airports and build bush roads, and buy flash drives for our children in school.”

Guyana can’t breathe
Mr. Lall said when one examines the problems associated with all of the foreign companies operating here, their treatment of Guyanese is like “having their knees on our necks and our leaders instead of taking it off, giving them a hand to squeeze our necks even tighter…”
Alluding to Dr. Singh’s comments that 1000 Guyanese will be employed at these new firms, Lall said, “This is how they measure progress, the billions of US dollar leaving this country versus the few cents being thrown at the Guyanese people as wages, supplying food, driving trucks, maintaining and operating machines. This is the arrangement Guyanese have been living with since Omai. And Ashni Singh is now extending or expanding this arrangement further, to the Guyanese people, that is what you will benefit…”

Meanwhile, even as Dr. Singh spoke about the benefits from these possible new gold mining operations he did not disclose the names of the firms and Mr. Lall believes something is sinister in this move. “Three more larger than Omai companies coming soon. He did not name them nor did he tell us where they are coming from or what the deal is. All he said, Guyana will benefit [with slice bread money]. When a leader could tell you consider the food and other supplies, transport services and 1,000 people who gon get jobs, in which a company will fetch out billions in US dollars from we backyard, speaks of the tragedy that they are creating for us.” To this end Lall mockingly said Omai’s significant contribution to Guyana remains “the cyanide spill that Guyanese died from, still suffering from and got nothing from.”

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