A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is deeply concerned about the impact of current challenges confronting the gold and diamond mining industry. The industry has been the country’s largest foreign currency earner for seven years with record-breaking production in 2013. A sharp drop in world price for gold in 2014 precipitated a fall in production, declarations and earnings and a rise in operating costs causing the closure of several operations and the loss of hundreds of jobs.
APNU is convinced that the national economy could be significantly enhanced and the livelihood of hinterland residents and miners enriched by a more comprehensive and collaborative approach to the industry. APNU, therefore, commits to a fresh policy towards the industry that will place it on a level that is comparable with other sectors of the economy to attract governmental support.
APNU is aware of the engagements between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MNRE) and the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA). APNU is committed to the promulgation of a strategic Plan of Action for the Gold and Diamond Mining Industry in order to sustain employment, investment and development of the industry. Attention must be paid to the following:
- Hinterland infrastructure: APNU iterates its policy to improve the maintenance of aerodromes, roadways and bridges. Frequent fatal aviation, riverine and road accidents and delays and damage to vehicles on difficult roadways have increased the risk and cost of mining operations in the hinterland.
- Hinterland security: APNU iterates its intention to transfer the headquarters of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) hinterland (‘F’) division from Georgetown to Bartica. APNU iterates its policy to provide the Force with adequate aircraft, all-terrain vehicles, communications equipment and river boats and additional personnel to ensure more effective law-enforcement.
- Hinterland municipal administration: APNU iterates its intention to upgrade Mabaruma, Bartica, Mahdia and Lethem – the administrative centres of the Barima-Waini; Cuyuni-Mazaruni, Potaro-Siparuni and Rupununi Regions, respectively – into townships with their own mayors and municipal councils in 2015. APNU will pay more attentionto regional development needs – such as providing regular electricity and pure water and solid waste disposal. Local government elections will also be held.
- Indigenous land rights: APNU iterates its support for the resolution of legitimate indigenous land rights claims in order to avoid conflict.
- Public services: APNU iterates its intention to improve health and to suppress vector-borne diseases such as malaria. The Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security will also direct its efforts towards the reduction of the incidence of mining fatalities and trafficking in persons.
- Royalties, rental rates and equipment: Consideration will be given to the GGDMA’s proposal for the reduction of rental paid on mining properties, lowering royalty payments and the acquisition of equipment, fuel,vehicles and accessories. Consideration must also be given to the GGDMA’s proposal for the implementation of waivers or reduced tariffs on fuel and selected imported equipment required by large-, small- and medium-scale miners in the sector.
APNU proposes a Plan of Action for the Gold and Diamond Mining Industry that will involve seven government ministries – Amerindian Affairs; Health; Home Affairs; Labour and Human Services; Local Government and Regional Development; Natural Resources and the Environment and Public Works – as well as significant stakeholders such as the GGDMA. APNU pledges to do more to support the gold and diamond mining industry to ensure its viability.