Reports of river degradation from gold-mining under probe

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — A fact-finding team has been deployed to investigate reports of environmental degradation due to gold-mining activities to the communities of Puruni and Mazaruni to the southwest of here.


The Ministry of Natural Resources said the team has been deployed in the wake of recent media coverage emanating from a report compiled by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) outlining environmental concerns.


According to the ministry, the team, comprising officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the ministry’s Compliance Division, will head to Puruni and Mazaruni in a matter of days with a view to ascertaining the severity of the impact and the accuracy of the reports, and putting in place urgent corrective measures.


"The Puruni is a ruinous mess of tailings and devastation along miles of the river’s course, unnavigable for large stretches; Guyanese gold-mining effluent in the Cuyuni, added to that coming from Venezuela, spews poisoned yellow effluent into the Essequibo at Bartica in such volume as to discolour large stretches of this ‘mighty’ river’s western shores," the ministry said in a release.


The GHRA has called for a national commission of inquiry and for the miners who have devastated the environment for future generations to be held financially and morally responsible. The association says the commission, which should comprise of all local interest and, if necessary, Diaspora expertise, is the urgent first step to energise a process of transformative action.


"Such a commission should aim to ensure that people can live and work in healthy, vibrant places and be dedicated to restorative and preventative actions on waterways, lands, protection of wildlife and all other forms of life now under threat," it said.


The Ministry of Natural Resources said its Compliance Division, which is now being staffed, has joined with the GGMC in shutting down a number of operations.


At last week’s inception meeting of the new board of directors of the GGMC, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman charged the members of the board to focus on environmental management with sensitisation in the first instance and more proactive initiatives for monitoring of water quality.

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