With General Elections expected to be held in March 2020, miners have placed the ball in the courts of all political parties to have more representation for their sector by creating a manifesto of their own.
In a publicised announcement made by the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) and National Mining Syndicate (NMS), the manifesto was done as requirements that political parties should take heed to, in order to win their votes for the elections.
According to the announcement, the requirements are issues that directly and indirectly relate to the industry and it is based on those items that the miners will use to cast their votes.
They started off their list by saying, “Miners in Guyana demand more serious representation and less lip service from political parties.”
In their manifesto, the GGDMA and NMS highlighted 11 issues that they would like to see being addressed.
The first issue dealt with government’s plans to phase out mercury from mining. According to the miners, no phasing out of mercury must be done without a viable, proven replacement. It was stated that the provision of financial and technical assistance must be provided to miners to phase out the use of mercury. Also affordable alternative technology must be provided to miners.
Moreover, the miners called for improved infrastructure to the mining sector. The political parties must provide new roads to access new mining areas and a better maintenance plan for the interior roads, including timely issuing of construction and maintenance contracts.
Roads should be permanent all-weather roads capable of accepting up to 60-ton loads and same for the bridges. Pontoons which service river crossings should be able to carry 100-ton loads.
A pre-set policy and formula should be in place where a sizeable percentage of proceeds from Royalties and Taxes are set aside for the development of infrastructure for mining.
Also the miners are calling on the political parties to enforce the Road Users Agreement to encourage a culture of responsible use of the interior roads.
Furthermore, the miners would like better incentives. According to the announcement, they would like access to cheaper fuel by reducing duties and taxes, removal of VAT and duty on all mining equipment, reduction in duties on new vehicles and a reduction of VAT and taxes across the board.
The next issue to be addressed is the financing for the sector, which the miners are seeking to have mining permits issued for 10-15 years in the first instance.
They also called for the establishment of a Mining Development Bank to assist the small and medium scale miners.
Political parties hoping to gain the votes of the miners must be able to provide technical support for miners and improved access to data on mineral deposits, exploration, extraction and processing. Assistance should also be provided for mapping and geological information from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).
The miners are also asking to have no increase in rental fees for mining lands, greater border control with increased security presence and faster police response.
Moreover, the miners are calling for a revamp of the Guyana Mining Act and a repositioning of Guyana’s Mining Policy which takes into consideration the realities and capabilities of operators in the interior.
In fact, they said all policies and regulations must be crafted in full consultation with miners and mining organisations and it must be done by competent experts with real-world mining experience.
Additionally, there should be a continuation of river mining and there should be a clear policy position on river mining based on proven scientific and technical studies.
Miners are asking that there should be leases for property holders in mining areas to develop land after mining has ended.
Finally, environmental policies must not exclude, minimise or marginalise mining in Guyana.
GGDMA and NMS with the publishing of their concerns are now calling on the political parties to contact them and share their views on the issues mentioned. This will be done by meetings to facilitate the discussions.

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