Efforts are being made and will continue to be made to protect the environment from the threats posed by the extractive industry. This was the assertion of President David Granger as he addressed the closing ceremony of the Youth in Natural Resources III, held in the Baridi Benab at State House.
A move in this direction, the Head of State said, will ensure the sustainability of the country’s resources and the protection of citizens.
According to him, the extractive industries — logging and mining — despite their measurable economic benefits, are associated often with air pollution, biodiversity loss, freshwater and oceanic contamination, greenhouse gas emissions, land degradation, and resource depletion.
“These industries, therefore, must be developed in a manner which protects the environment,” he emphasised while pointing to the use of mercury in the gold mining sector.
“It is an amalgam which is used to extract gold from ore. It is a deadly poison which can find itself into the air, soil and rivers. The prevention of mercury pollution is vital to the protection of people’s lives and livelihoods and the sustainability of the environment. Mercury has found its way into the waterways — rivers and creeks — and presents a threat to the country’s aquatic systems and its biodiversity. It can equally leech into the soil and find its way into the food chain,” the President said.
He further noted that Guyana is a signatory to the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The Minamata Convention’s objective is “…to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.”
In his address to the 1st Conference of Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, held in Geneva, Switzerland on 28th September 2017, President Granger said, “Mercury is not a plaything. It is harmful to human health and to the physical environment whether in the air, on land or in water. The use of mercury, in human products and processes, is a threat to human health and the environment.”
He, therefore, reiterated that the “safety of our people and the protection of our environment is our foremost priority”.