Guyana Goldfields Inc. had indicated in September 2018 to local regulators that it is eager to start underground mining at its Region Seven operations. But the company’s actions thereafter displayed a total disregard for our laws and systems.
This is according to head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Vincent Adams.
During an exclusive interview with the Guyana Standard, the EPA head, who is currently in the USA, said that he first learned of the company’s project from an announcement in one of the daily newspapers. “This was sometime in November,” he said. Immediately, Dr. Adams said that he called his officers and enquired if the company was granted an Environmental Permit to conduct such works.
He said, “But much to my surprise, my people told me that they had filled up and application and it was still being processed up to November. Now how can you move ahead with the project and the application is still in the system?”
Dr. Adams said he was also apprised by his officers that after Guyana Goldfields expressed interest in doing underground mining, it was specifically told on October 24, 2018, to not proceed unless a permit is granted.
The Hydrologist added, “Then when I looked at their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), it was not thorough. It did not address, for example, the serious environmental implications this activity can have… Underground mining is new to us…We have to be thorough. So they have been asked to fix the EIA.”
Considering the fact that Guyana does not have any law or regulations which govern underground mining, the EPA instructed Guyana Goldfields to cease all works. Further to this, Dr. Adams said that a team of inspectors was sent to the Region Seven operations. The Environmental Engineer said that his officers found that the company was not in compliance with about 50% of the nation’s environmental regulations.
He said that the company was instructed about two weeks ago to provide deadlines for when the issues raised would be addressed.
Additionally, the Guyana Goldfields has been asked by EPA to recommend some stringent rules and regulations that govern underground mining.
“We don’t have the technical people here to get it done…But rest assured I would not be applying anything they give me blindly. I will ensure it fits our situation here and it is in keeping with international best practices,” the EPA Head said.
Guyana Goldfields’ disobedience was also flagged by its shareholders, five of whom are now calling for the Board of Directors to be sacked due to the loss of over US$700M in shareholder value, among other factors.