ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND MINING SCHEME LAUNCHED-
Alim Hassim Stabroek News October 1998
The Canada-funded Guyana Mining Environmental Capacity Development (GEN-CAPD) project, aimed at boosting environmental expertise in several key institutions in the mining sector, was officially launched yesterday.
This followed two weeks of discussions with stakeholders in the project-the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA); the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC); the Environemntal Protection Agency (EPA); Mazda Mining; Omai Gold Mines; the Guyana Forestry commission; the University of Guyana (UG); the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), among others.
The project is financed by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to the tune of $375 million, and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on October 1, this year.
A team from the Canadian Center for Minerals and energy Technology (CANMET), a division of Natural Resources Canada (NRC). The team is headed by CIDA Programme Manager, Reid Levenson.
Canadian High Commissioner, Dr. Alan Bowker, told the simple ceremony at the office of the Prime Minister that the project will focus on three areas: policy regulation related to mining in Guyana; monitoring and inspection and operational capacity within the Guyanese mining industry."
With regard to policy and regulation, he said, the starting point will be to access the existing regulation framework and launch a multi--stakeholder process in which both government agencies and Guyana's mining industry will participate, to recommend necessary changes. In addition, a set of operating guidelines for the environmental division of the GGMC will be assembled.
Regarding the monitoring and inspection aspect, Bowker said, "The project will explore the capacity of relevant government institutions to mount and sustain a viable inspection programme and will provide training and other support necessary to achieve effective inspection."
The project will also aim at both the improvement of productivity and the reduction of environmental impact. Wherever possible, Bowker said, the project will merge these two objectives so as to encourage acceptance by Guyanese miners that responsible environmental management is an essential component of profitable and sustainable industry operations.
New technologies will be introduced through training and also through demonstration projects which will target primarily the small-and-medium sized mining ventures, Bowker stated.
"The project will be providing training for the people concerned. Once of the essential components is a process of training in management to improve the productivity, the recovery rates for example, the methodology so as to better utilise the resources and also to minimise the impact on the environment," said Bowker.
He noted that the project got off to a good start and the next phase now is to get people on the ground to get the programmes working.
Among those addressing the ceremony, which was chaired by Prime Minister Sam Hinds, were EPA executive director Per Bertilsson; Levenson; and Tony Shields, secretary of the GGDMA.
Shields said that here is a major perception problem among miners as regard the project. He said that miners were questioning whether this project was aimed at helping them or closing them down.
"That is why it is important that you correlate and coordinate the activities with the GGDMA so that the ministers will understand that this is for the benefit of the industry. And we will support that because we realise that we cannot go on operating like this," Shields said.
A number of other Canadian and Guyanese officials were present at the launching.