Small-scale gold mining and environmental policy challenges in Guyana: protection or pollution.
Abstract. Small-scale gold mining has caused some serious ecological problems in Guyana's interior regions due to irresponsible use of mercury and poor production techniques. The Guyanese government is aware of these environmental problems, but controlling them has proved beyond its capabilities. Small-scale mining sites are numerous, mobile, and difficult to reach. Moreover, small-scale miners are far less concerned with good environmental performance than with economic gains. This article suggests that more stringent and serious policy regulations should be developed.
Resume. L'exploitation miniere a petite echele a provoque de serieux problemes ecologiques dans les regions interieures de la Guyane, cela en raison de l'utilisation irresponsable du mercure et de techniques de production deficientes. Le gouvernement guyanais est conscient de ces problemes environnementaux, mais il s'est montre incapable de les controler. Les sites d'exploitation miniere a petite echele sont nombreux, mobiles et difficiles a atteindre. En plus, les miniers a petite echele sont bien moins portes a developper une bonne n. 1. A female servant charged with the care of a young child. gestion environnementale qu'a chercher des gains economiques. Cet article suggere qu'il faudrait mettre en place des politiques de regulation plus strictes.
Over the past two decades or so, small-scale gold mining has become a major concern in many developing countries. On the one hand, governments, development planners, and policy makers have become increasingly aware of the importance of small-scale gold mining in terms of its contribution to reducing poverty, employing people, earning foreign money, and raising the overall national income. On the other hand, they have also realized that uncontrolled small-scale gold mining could lead to adverse and undesirable effects on the environment. A number of developing countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America South America, fourth largest continent (1991 est. pop. 299,150,000), c.6,880,000 sq mi (17,819,000 sq km), the southern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. are caught in this quandary. Specifically, they are caught between a negative externality Externality
A consequence of an economic activity that is experienced by unrelated third parties. An externality can be either positive or negative.
Pollution emitted by a factory that spoils the surrounding environment and affects the health of nearby residents is (pollution) and a positive externality (positive employment effects and poverty alleviation) in the small-scale gold mining business. Furthermore, there appears to be no systematic model on how to approach small-scale gold mining, particularly concerning the negative environmental effects (see Jennings 1999).
Despite these concerns and challenges, some countries have pushed forward with and registered impressive growth because of small-scale gold mining. Ghana, for example, is now ranked the tenth largest gold-producing country in the world and the second largest producer in Africa (after South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa. ). An estimated 13 million people worldwide are currently involved in small-scale mining, and a further 80-100 million people are affected by it (see Hentschel, Hruschka, and Priester 2002). Many of these individuals are women and children. This figure is likely to grow if prospects for regular employment and poverty are not addressed more seriously in developing countries. Guyana, a rich resource country in South America, is no exception to this challenge.
Ever since the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh published The Discoverie of the Large, Rich Bewtiful Empyre in 1596, documenting his search for El Dorado El Dorado, legendary country of South America
El Dorado (ĕl`dərä`dō, –rā`–) [Span.,=the gilded man], legendary country of the Golden Man sought by adventurers in South America. , the city of gold, Guyana has captured the imagination of many would-be adventurers. In the late sixteenth century the Dutch and the British established footholds in Guyana and tried to extract gold. But the lure of gold never fit as prominently into the expectations of most European forays in other areas of South America as it did in Brazil for the Portuguese (see Keen and Haynes 2000, 126). The Dutch were more interested in trading with the Amerindian population, though investigations into the possibility of obtaining metals were carried out spasmodically spas·mod·ic
1. Relating to, affected by, or having the character of a spasm; convulsive.
2. Happening intermittently; fitful: spasmodic rifle fire.
3. . The main commodities of trade were food items, timber, dye, and "red slaves" (Whitehead 1988). But this flourishing trade between the Dutch and the Amerindians was forestalled because "the West India Company There has been more than one West India Company:
Gold mining in Guyana is more than a century old. Commercial exploitation of gold began in the 1880s, and by 1893 British Guiana British Guiana: see Guyana. exported about 140,000 ounces of gold. This development was in part due to the introduction of European beet sugar beet sugar: see beet; sucrose. on the world market and the subsequent depression of West Indian West In·dies
An archipelago between southeast North America and northern South America, separating the Caribbean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean and including the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the Bahama Islands. sugar industries in the 1880s. The temporary removal of the border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana over the Essequibo region also stimulated gold production. Between 1884 and 1900, over 1,250,000 ounces of gold were produced. Most of the gold was produced by "pork knockers
Knockers, Knackers, Bwca (Welsh), Bucca (Cornish) or Tommyknockers " (independent prospectors who were famous for living off dried pork for long periods), and some by joint stock companies (Forte 1998, 74; Thomas 1998).
Since the mid-1980s, a more expansive gold exploitation has taken place in Guyana. After a suffocating period of Cooperative Socialism (1966-85), Guyana returned to the global economy. Development planners opened Guyana's interior to multinational mining corporations and local miners to generate foreign exchange and stimulate the cash-starved economy (Mining Journal 1989).
Subsequently, the government embraced open markets and trade liberalization lib·er·al·ize
v. lib·er·al·ized, lib·er·al·iz·ing, lib·er·al·iz·es
To make liberal or more liberal: "Our standards of private conduct have been greatly liberalized . . . policies, a move that was supported by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF IMF
See: International Monetary Fund
See International Monetary Fund (IMF). ). Through the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), these development agencies argued that the reliance on primary commodities--sugar and rice--was disadvantageous dis·ad·van·ta·geous
dis·advan·ta to peripheral economies like Guyana. A more secure and sound way towards development (or development based on comparative advantage) would require the exploitation of mineral and forest resources like gold, diamonds, and timber (see World Bank 1993, 1994). Hence, mining and logging were perceived to have the greatest growth potential and were specifically targeted. Poor economic conditions forced Guyana to accept the SAP.
Incidentally, the government's liberalization and privatization privatization: see nationalization.
Transfer of government services or assets to the private sector. State-owned assets may be sold to private owners, or statutory restrictions on competition between privately and publicly owned policies coincided with the unprecedented rise in the price of gold on the international market--from the historically fixed value of US$35 an ounce in the 1960s to US$850 an ounce in the 1980s (Greer 1993, 91; Brimelow 1988; Ramirez 1987). Subsequently, between 1975 and 1985, global demand for gold was far ahead (about 40%) of what gold mining could supply. Graulau's research indicates that "for the period 1990-1999, the World Gold Council has estimated that total global demand exceeded by 100,000 metric tonnes the amount of gold in existing industrial mines" (2001, 78). While the surge in gold prices generated a gold rush in the Amazon region, especially in Brazil, it never reached a grand scale in Guyana. Nevertheless, Guyana was affected as much as other Latin America Latin America, the Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. countries (United Nations 1996). For the most part, large-scale gold mining activities are subject to regulations and are therefore more easily monitored and supervised than small-scale gold mining, which has proven more elusive and evasive. Mining experts estimate that over 40,000 small-scale gold miners, including 10,000 Brazilian garimpeiros, participate in gold mining in Guyana, a majority illegally. The Guyanese government is aware of illegal gold mining, but also realizes that small-scale gold mining provides revenue for the state and employs the poorest section of the population. Mining accounts for 32% of Guyana's gross national product (GNP GNP
See: Gross National Product ), surpassing such traditional exports as sugar and rice (Jacobson and Kratochvil 1998; Pearce 1996). Gold mining and economic growth, however, are not guided in ways that are environmentally sound and socially just. Current environmental laws and regulations, environmental awareness, ecological standards, and protections have not met the expectations of policy makers. Much of the environmental damage is potentially avoidable, but the Guyana government lacks the institutional capacity and the mechanism to effectively monitor the environmental practices of miners.
This article will address the following themes:
* It will highlight the fundamental problems associated with smallscale gold mining (poor mining practices and environmental degradation) in the interior of Guyana.
* It will examine Guyana's environmental policy challenges in regards to effectively monitoring and controlling gold mining activities.
* It will examine the impact of Brazilian garimpeiros' presence in Guyana's interior region.
* It will examine environmental resistance against destructive smallscale gold mining practices.
Environmental Impact of Small-Scale Gold Mining
Gold mining occurs in the area of the Guiana Shield The Guiana Shield (Spanish: Guayana) is one of the three cratons of the South American Plate. It is a 1.7 billion year old Precambrian geological formation in northeast South America that forms a portion of the northern coast. , a huge belt of greenstone green·stone
Any of various altered basic igneous rocks colored green by chlorite, hornblende, or epidote.
NZ a type of green jade used for Maori carvings and ornaments
beginning in Venezuela and extending eastward through parts of western Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana French Guiana (gēăn`ə, –än`–), Fr. La Guyane française, officially Department of Guiana, French overseas department (2005 est. pop. , and south into Brazil. The Shield covers a landmass land·mass
A large unbroken area of land.
a large continuous area of land
landmass of 415,200 square kilometres of forest. In Guyana, most of the small-scale gold mining occurs outside the densely populated coastland coast·land
The land along a coast.
Noun 1. coastland - land in a coastal area
land, soil, ground - material in the top layer of the surface of the earth in which plants can grow (especially with reference to its belt and in the jungle or forested region, home to an estimated 70,000 of Guyana's indigenous people. Specifically, small-scale gold mining occurs in the North West region, the Cuyuni/Mazaruni region, and the Patoro/Siparuni region.
Small-scale gold miners are very diverse, but they tend to fit into some basic demographic categories: young males; mainly of African, Amerindian, and East Indian East In·dies
Indonesia. The term is sometimes used to refer to all of Southeast Asia. Historically, it referred chiefly to India.
East Indian adj. & n.
Noun 1. ancestry; migratory; and coastal and group-oriented (Mars 1998). Small-scale miners have always been involved in the interior regions of Guyana Guyana is divided into 10 regions:
Process of clearing forests. Rates of deforestation are particularly high in the tropics, where the poor quality of the soil has led to the practice of routine clear-cutting to make new soil available for agricultural use. , pollution, dredging, discoloration dis·col·or·a·tion
a. The act of discoloring.
b. The condition of being discolored.
2. A discolored spot, smudge, or area; a stain.
Noun 1. , siltation, and land sterilization sterilization
Any surgical procedure intended to end fertility permanently (see contraception). Such operations remove or interrupt the anatomical pathways through which the cells involved in fertilization travel (see reproductive system). from mercury use in mining activities (Lall 2000a, 2000b; Jacobson and Kratochvil 1998; Stabroek News Stabroek News is a privately owned daily newspaper published in Guyana. It was first published as a weekly in 1986. External links
Data for the rate of deforestation as a result of gold mining in Guyana are sparse, but a study in neighbouring Suriname shows that small-scale gold mining is responsible for 49-96 square kilometres of deforestation. By 2009, between 750 and 2,280 square kilometres of Suriname forest will be lost as a result of small-scale gold mining because the regeneration of forest sites in mining areas is slow. These sites experience secondary regrowth Re`growth´
n. 1. The act of regrowing; a second or new growth.
The regrowth of limbs which had been cut off.
- A. B. Buckley. and the forest cover is inferior in quality and quantity to areas that have not been mined. Mining sites do not necessarily experience full regrowth because "forest miners completely turn over the soil, eliminating seeds, roots, and tree saplings" (Heemskerk 2001, 125). Furthermore, miners spill two cubic metres of sediments into watercourses for each gram of gold produced (see Macmillan 1995; Heemskerk 2001).
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Stabroek News (15 September 2000), the interior regions of Guyana, particularly the rivers, have been exposed to varying degrees of mercury. The release of mercury into the rivers has disturbed the ecosystem and affected Amerindian communities. Since World War II, developed countries like the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. have abandoned the use of mercury to separate gold particles from river sediments (amalgamation) for economic and environmental reasons (Greer 1993, 92). The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP UNEP United Nations Environment Program(me)
UNEP Unbundled Network Element Platform
UNEP University of Northeastern Philippines ) recommends that mercury amalgamation should not be practiced because of potential damage to the environment (Greer 1993, 93; United Nations Environment Programme 1991). While there are specific guidelines on mercury use (see Colchester, La Rose, and James 2002), these regulations are not observed or obeyed in Guyana due to economic hardships, the absence of cheap alternative technologies and other sources of employment. Guyana in the 1980s and 1990s was, and still is, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere Western Hemisphere
Part of Earth comprising North and South America and the surrounding waters. Longitudes 20° W and 160° E are often considered its boundaries. (World Bank 1993). The country is saddled with debt burden of US$1.1 billion, more than US$1,000 for each of its 750,000 inhabitants. Currently, the overall economic conditions in Guyana have improved considerably since the People Progressive Party (PPP-Civic) came into power. Civil service workers make about US$110 a month. Individuals in the informal economy and in private business, particularly in Georgetown, earn higher incomes. Miners can make up to six times this amount in less than six months. For the attraction to small-scale gold mining to slow down or reverse, the economic conditions have to be improved. Given the current economic and political situation combined with the reality that an average Guyanese makes about US$800 annually, it is doubtful that gold mining activities will ever slow down in the near future.
Although Guyanese small-scale gold miners are diverse, their activities have created a common pattern of environmental problems. Notable among these problems are levels of tailing and discoloration of rivers. Guyana's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA EPA eicosapentaenoic acid.
n.pr See acid, eicosapentaenoic.
n. ) admits that there have been "negative environmental and mining practices by small scale miners" and notes that the "main problem is tailing from operations which cause increased sedimentation in [creek and river] water and discolours it" (Rose 2001). Gold mining operations have also left pools of stagnant water that increase the incidence of malaria. While data do not exist for Guyana, small-scale gold miners in Suriname have left about 9,600 pits annually averaging 80 by 80 metres in an area no larger than 96 square kilometres (see Peterson and Heemskerk 2001, 121). After a heavy rainfall, many rivers overflow into these pits and transmit malaria and monomethyl mercury farther afield. The consequence is that mercury use has reached higher trophic trophic /tro·phic/ (tro´fik) (trof´ik) pertaining to nutrition.
Of, relating to, or characterized by nutrition. levels within the food web, even at distances not directly related to mining activities. Equally troubling is that the mobility of miners makes it impossible to treat and contain the spread of malaria.
The New Scientist summarizes the effects of gold mining in the interior:
The extra silt is causing other serious problems for people in the area. There are no roads in Upper Mazaruni, and the river is the main thoroughfare through the region. Dredging operations have already blocked some waterways, and Indians claim that night travel is now hazardous. People who live along the rivers are also afraid that many species of fish, their main source of protein, will be unable to spawn as their new breeding grounds are wrecked or buried under the sand banks created by the new dredges. (1990, 17)
Faced with this situation and recognizing the necessity for environmental regulation of land dredging, the government has from time to time closed down dredging operations (particularly in the Upper Mazaruni), advocating better guidelines for mining operations, especially arrangements "for the containment of slurries" (Stabroek News 15 March 2001). The government also declared the conditions of the Mazaruni River The River
Guyana's Mazaruni River takes source in the Roraima Plateau, three levels of sandstones and conglomerates, crowned by Mt. Roraima (2810 m.).
In Guyana, the two highest levels of the Roraima Plateau are known as Pakaraima Mountains and Merume Mountains. from Kamarany to Iawalla to be disastrous, and has recognized that these conditions place onerous burdens on the community and environment. Meanwhile, miners have argued against the government's stringent regulations. The miners' principal assertions are that restrictions on mining would impose an unnecessary burden on the industry, force miners out of business, and create economic depression in mining regions (Rose 2001).
Mercury Effects and Case Studies
Humans have always recognized the dangers of mercury. However, our recognition of the effects of mercury entered a new phase in the 1950s when it was discovered that mercury was the cause of Minamata disease Minamata disease
Disease first identified in 1956 in Minamata, Japan. A fishing port, Minamata was also the home of Nippon Chisso Hiryo Co., a manufacturer of chemical fertilizer, carbide, and vinyl chloride. (Harada 1995). New research shows that mercury contamination is on the rise, and exposure to levels of mercury that were previously considered safe in fact is not (Grandjean & Weihe 1998, 67). Adverse effects of mercury have been detected and documented at low exposure levels. Mercury can occur naturally in the environment through volcanoes or forest fires This is a list of notorious forest fires: North America
Year Size Name Area Notes
1825 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km²) Miramichi Fire New Brunswick Killed 160 people. , or be released into the environment through human activities. Small-scale gold miners use mercury to extract gold because it is cheap and efficient. Small-scale gold mining releases mercury into the environment through two processes. The first is through the amalgamation process amalgamation process (əmăl'gəmā`shən), in particular, a method to extract gold and silver from ores. The ore is crushed and treated with mercury, in which the metal dissolves. (blow torching) where mercury is added to amalgam and heated. The mercury escapes into the atmosphere as vapour and returns to earth with rain. Through amalgamation miners run the risk of contracting respiratory illness Noun 1. respiratory illness - a disease affecting the respiratory system
respiratory disease, respiratory disorder
adult respiratory distress syndrome, ARDS, wet lung, white lung - acute lung injury characterized by coughing and rales; inflammation of the . The second process occurs when sediments are taken from riverbeds and forced through sieves coated with mercury. Through this process mercury is discharged into the land and river ecosystems, then bio-accumulated, finally working its way up the food chain to humans. Exposure to mercury poisoning mercury poisoning, tissue damage resulting from exposure to more than trace amounts of the element mercury or its compounds. Elemental mercury (the silver liquid familiar from thermometers) is the most common occupational source. can cause breathing difficulties, nausea, diarrhea and rashes, insomnia, memory and vision loss, severe tremors, irreversible neurological damage, teratogenic ter·a·to·gen·ic
Of, relating to, or causing malformations of an embryo or a fetus.
pertaining to or emanating from teratogen. affects, and death (Renzoni, Zino, and Franchi 1998; Colchester 1997; Greer 1993; Malm n. 1. A kind of brick of a light brown or yellowish color, made of sand, clay, and chalk. 1990; Brooke 1990).
It is impossible to calculate the amount of mercury used for the recovery of gold. The government of Guyana frequently complains that miners do not declare their gold to the Guyana Gold Board and unknown quantities are smuggled out of the country. To avoid taxes, private gold buyers do not record the gold they buy. The informal gold mining economy cannot be quantified with any great degree of accuracy (see Cleary 1990). Nevertheless, data do exist for the amount of mercury used for gold recovery in other parts of Latin America. Gold mining practices in these countries are similar to those in Guyana, and so a similar discharge of mercury in Guyana can be expected, albeit to a lesser degree. From 1550 to 1880 Spanish colonizers in Latin America discharged an estimated 200,000 metric tonnes of mercury into the environment (Malm 1998, 73). Currently, small-scale gold mining operations release about 400-500 tonnes of mercury into the environment each year. Most of this discharge comes from Latin America. Brazilian small-scale miners release about 90-120 tonnes of mercury annually. From 1988 to 1997, Venezuelan miners released about 40 tonnes of mercury, and from 1987 to 1997, Columbian miners released about 30 tonnes (Malm 1998; Greer 1993, 92; Brooke 1990). The Environmental Department of Rondonia, Brazil, estimated that from 1979 to 1985, about 100 tonnes of mercury was released into the Madiera River Basin (Malm 1990). It is believed that, for every ounce of gold produced, two ounces of toxic mercury are released into the environment. In Suriname, researchers found that miners claim that they use about 1 kilogram of mercury for every kilogram of gold produced (Heemskerk 2001).
So far, research has been sketchy on effects of mercury on the miners and the environment in Guyana. The government is developing a system to collect and test samples from water and fish where there has been careless use of mercury in gold mining (see below). The Government Information Agency reported that in the period from January to May 2003, 32,610 ounces of gold were produced. If we use the exponential formula In combinatorial mathematics, the exponential formula states that for any formal power series of the form
In 2001, the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST IAST Institute of Applied Science and Technology (Guyana)
IAST International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration
IAST Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking
IAST International Association for Strategic Thought ) conducted a study in Isseneru, on the Upper Mazaruni, and in Kurupung, along the Kurupung River, to determine the environmental and health impacts of the use of mercury on these communities. Both communities are home to Amerindians, about 750 persons each, and are about 35-40 kilometres apart. Samples were taken from 168 fish, 71 from Kurupung and 97 from Isseneru. Hair and urine samples were also taken from the residents. Using tolerable limits of 6.4 parts per million parts per million
mg/kg or ml/l; see ppm. (ppm) of mercury on human hair set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the study found that between 89% and 96% of the residents at Isseneru and between 12% and 14% of the residents at Kurupung had exceeded the tolerable limits of mercury in hair (Richards 2001).
While it is not clear why higher levels of mercury were detected in Isseneru than in Kurupung, there is good reason to believe that the residents, apart from direct inhalation direct inhalation,
n the targeting of an aromatherapy treatment to the nose of one patient. of HG vapour during the burning process, were contaminated by consuming fish. Fish accumulate large concentrations of methylmercury, especially in the brain and muscle. Residents in Iseneru and Kurupung often complain of rashes, sores, and trembling, all symptoms of mercury contamination. There are laws regulating mercury in Guyana, and the most recent was implemented under the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Act. Specifically, the Act stipulates safe storage and careful use of mercury (see Colchester, La Rose, and James 2002). These regulations are not obeyed. The United States Environmental Protection Agency "EPA" redirects here. For other uses see EPA (disambiguation) and Environmental Protection Agency.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA recommends that mercury levels in fish for human consumption should not exceed 0.5 ppm. It stresses further that these guidelines should not be used in communities where fish is consumed in large quantities. Amerindian communities and individuals in boreal bo·re·al
1. Of or relating to the north; northern.
2. Of or concerning the north wind.
3. Boreal areas of Guyana consumed fish about three to four times a week. This would mean that mercury contamination is much higher in the food web in these communities. Similar mercury poisoning was found among Maroon miners in Suriname (De Kom, Van der Voet, and De Wolff 1998). The Maroons of Suriname are descendents of runaway African slaves, who established autonomous communities in the Suriname rainforest. Unlike some Amerindians, Surinamese Maroons have control over mining territories, and either hire other Surinamese and Brazilian migrant workers, or charge a fee to mine on their territories. Tests from several mining sites in Brazil and Ecuador also show that miners had mercury levels that were over the WHO tolerable limits (see Tarras-Wahlberg et al. 2000; Bezzerra, Verissimo, and Uhl 1996; Akagi et al. 1995).
The effects of mercury poisoning are probably more widespread in the interior, but it is not always easy to tell. The symptoms of mercury poisoning and other tropical diseases, like malaria, for example, are similar. Given the similarities in their symptoms and that trained doctors are few in the interior regions (trained personnel are usually attracted more to the comfort of urban areas), mercury poisoning can often be misdiagnosed as malaria, especially in the early stages of infection. The geography of Amerindian communities also makes it difficult to carry out thorough medical practices since many of these communities are isolated and hard to reach. Moreover, Amerindians are cautious about western forms of medicine and, thus, generally rely on their own traditional medical practice, which in many cases, do not treat mercury poisoning effectively. These challenges are further compounded by the Guyanese health-care system in the interior where it is noticeably too under-funded, under-staffed, and under-trained to deal with the complexities associated with small-scale gold mining and mercury poisoning.
Small-scale gold mining will continue, as will mercury poisoning. The theory that workers tend to gravitate grav·i·tate
intr.v. grav·i·tat·ed, grav·i·tat·ing, grav·i·tates
1. To move in response to the force of gravity.
2. To move downward.
3. to jobs with the highest expected income does not hold true for small-scale gold mining. Irrespective of irrespective of
Without consideration of; regardless of.
preposition despite the price of gold on the world market and increased opportunities for employment outside the mining sector, miners are still drawn to the profession (see Heemskerk 2001). Certainly, gold mining jobs do pay better than other manual labour, and realistically, the rise in production costs and the drop in gold prices do contribute to varying levels of mining activities, but do not yield a point of noticeable change. Small-scale miners see gold mining as a source of employment and do not take into account the fluctuation of gold prices on the world market like multinational corporations do. Large, transnational mining corporations like Golden Stars (Omai) in Guyana have often shelved exploration for more gold until the price of gold recovers. Small-scale gold miners tend to ignore these events. Miners find it economically beneficial to work in the interior since it relieves them from basic financial obligations like housing and rations. Miners generally live in makeshift tents and hammocks, and mining bosses generally provide basic rations like salted pork, rice, and wild meat, amenities that are not often available to the poorest section of the Guyanese population. Some miners do complain of harsh working conditions, loneliness, and malaria, but the possibility of striking it "rich" compensates for these burdens. One study shows that 30% of Guyanese households accept that the rivers are threatened, while 63% of miners feel that their activities have no environmental impact, reflecting the slow pace of environmental awareness in Guyana (Richards 2000a). Small-scale miners are more concerned with their immediate survival and maximizing their income than with long-term health risks to themselves and hazards posed to the environment. The International Labor Organization International Labor Organization (ILO), specialized agency of the United Nations, with headquarters in Geneva. It was created in 1919 by the Versailles Treaty and affiliated with the League of Nations until 1945, when it voted to sever ties with the League. (ILO ILO
International Labor Organization
Noun 1. ILO - the United Nations agency concerned with the interests of labor
International Labor Organization, International Labour Organization ) has identified five major health risks associated with small-scale mining: exposure to dust, exposure to mercury and other chemicals, the effects of noise and vibration, the effects of poor ventilation, and the effects of overexertion overexertion
horses appear to be able to race beyond their real capacity when they are not properly fit and develop pulmonary edema as a result. , cramped work spaces, and poor equipment (1999, 21).
Environmental Regulations and Challenges
Only since the latter part of the twentieth century have environmental issues become a global concern. This new environmental concern was guided by three fundamental views: finiteness in the 1960s and 1970s, interdependence in the 1980s, and sustainable development Sustainable development is a socio-ecological process characterized by the fulfilment of human needs while maintaining the quality of the natural environment indefinitely. The linkage between environment and development was globally recognized in 1980, when the International Union in the 1990s (Strada 2003, 75-77). In 1992, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or Earth Summit, an 11-day meeting held in June, 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss the global conflict between economic development and environmental protection. in Brazil, Agenda 21 was adopted, which called for all countries to pursue sustainable development. Essentially, Agenda 21 states that all countries have a right to develop economically, but they must do so in a responsible way: reap economic benefits from the environment without degrading it (United Nations 1992). In tandem Adv. 1. in tandem - one behind the other; "ride tandem on a bicycle built for two"; "riding horses down the path in tandem"
tandem , Guyana established its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1996, and since then the country has made some significant strides in environmental protection and sustainable development. The EPA is supported by a host of international environmental bodies and projects, including the Iwokrama Rainforest Project, the Britain Overseas Development Administration, the German Technical Agency, the Canadian International Development Agency The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is a Canadian government agency which administers foreign aid programs in developing countries. CIDA operates in partnership with other Canadian organizations in the public and private sectors as well as other , the United Nations Development Programme, the World Wild Life Regional Forest Project, and Conservation International (see Roopnarine 2000, 2002).
In regard to gold mining, the government places the responsibility on the Guyana Geology Mines Commission (GGMC GGMC Guyana Geology and Mines Commission ) and the Guyana EPA. The government claims that these regulatory bodies have helped to bring environmental problems under control, especially large-scale gold mining since the Omai cyanide spill in the Essequibo River Essequibo River
River, east-central Guyana. The largest river between the Amazon and the Orinoco rivers and the longest in Guyana, it rises in the Acarai Mountains on the Brazilian border. in 1995. Despite these claims, the GGMC and the EPA are ill prepared and ill equipped to carry out their mandated responsibilities. Guyana's environmental monitoring agencies do not have the financial resources, trained personnel, or advanced technologies that are all required for sound environmental protection. Moreover, there are only 230 and 40 staff workers in the GGMC and EPA, respectively. These staffs are certainly too small to monitor Guyana's environmental problems.
Additionally, GGMC staff members have also engaged in unauthorized rogue raids on mining camps, beating miners and seizing their gold. By law, the Guyanese government unequivocally controls all sub-surface minerals and has extensive powers to raid and search suspects if there is enough evidence of gold theft, or what the government prefers to call crimes against the state. But these laws are abused. The Guyana Information Agency (2003b) acknowledges that
In an effort to clamp down on tax evasion in the mining industry, the GGMC is currently investigating reports of under-declaration of gold production in the gold fields, predominantly in the Mazaruni area, where money-laundering is also said to be taking place through the illicit sale of gold. This scenario is in direct contravention to the laws governing the declaration and the sale of gold, and also poses a further setback for the Gold Board in substantiating its declaration statistics and record. The GGMC is also investigating the underhand swapping of gold in exchange for fuel smuggled from Venezuela, involving miners from the neighbouring territory.
The Guyanese government is currently working with various environmental bodies to curb bad mining practices. The Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) at the University of Guyana The University of Guyana, in Georgetown, Guyana, was established in 1963 by the PPP administration. Its first chancellor was Edgar Mortimer Duke and its first Principal and Vice-Chancellor was a white mathematician Lancelot Hogben. suggests the use of retort. A retort is a closed container, which traps and cools mercury vapour when gold is burned. The liquid mercury can be recovered and reused. This new technique will no doubt open new frontiers to sustainability in gold mining. But such awareness, commitment, and responsibilities have so far proved beyond the capacity of the Guyana environmental regulatory bodies. Currently, reckless mining practices are, in many respects, beyond detection because the EPA and GGMC are unable to deploy officers in sufficient numbers to patrol mining areas and to apply stiff sanctions. Moreover, the twin woes of an under-funded and under-trained environmental policy program have created loopholes in the regulatory framework that allow miners to infiltrate the industry and avoid regulations.
Small- and medium-sized gold mining may prove too evasive for Guyana's environmental policy capacity unless there are stronger commitments to monitor the interior more effectively. Environmental regulatory bodies are running years behind deadlines, mandated or not. Many monitoring facilities are old and deteriorating and present more problems than solutions. The GGMC and the EPA operate under a complex mix of laws, regulations, orders, directives, and so on. The result is intense frustration and serious overlaps and gaps in regulatory requirements and failure to address mining problems according to their relative risks to the environment and people. Consequently, administrative bodies are structurally weak and inefficient and therefore are in a disadvantaged position to ensure and enforce preventative actions against careless mining practices. In addition, the country has been reeling from a wave of crime, ethnic polarization, mass migration, huge national debt, and corruption (Roopnarine 2003). Mining areas have experienced a new and a more dangerous style of crime. Mining camps are no longer threatened by "conventional knife-wielding criminals, but attacks are now being launched by heavily-armed gangs carrying AK-47 rifles" (Guyana Information Agency 2003a). The mining sector has taken a severe hit from the current crime wave. Estimated losses in 2003, for example, were around US$2-3 million (Lucas 2003). Poverty, unemployment, poor education, and limited opportunities for personal advancement are the root causes for Guyanese involvement in small-scale mining.
Government officials contend that it is difficult to monitor hundreds of small mining operations throughout the country. A policy of public awareness is embraced, which means that the government is relying on miners to practice safe mining and hopes that citizens will report incidents of reckless mining. Relying jointly or in partnership with the public for the detection of infractions can be a forward-looking complementary strategy towards safe mining practices. Sound data on careless mining is of little practical use, however, unless this information is promptly acted upon (see Hall 1997). Moreover, institutions and networks to bring in data to analyze and disseminate require a preset plan and the resources to curb predatory gold mining practices, a priority Guyana is yet to embrace seriously. Underlying this malaise is the absence of a political will to strike hard against unregulated mining and the full empowerment to exercise overall authority over mining management. As stated earlier, the government is cautious about over-regulating small-scale gold mining because it brings in badly needed revenue, and more importantly, small-scale gold mining keeps a poor section of the population employed. The government is cognizant that over-regulation of small-scale mining would create additional employment problems and exacerbate already tense labour relations labour relations (US), labor relations npl → relations fpl dans l'entreprise
labour relations labour npl → Beziehungen pl currently existing throughout through the country. But even if Guyana does muster the political will to pass laws Pass laws in South Africa were designed to segregate the population and were one of the dominant features of the country's apartheid system. Introduced in South Africa in 1923, they were designed to regulate movement of black Africans into urban areas. , there is no vehicle for the enforcement of these laws due to corruption and lack of funding.
Most of the small-scale miners are of Guyanese origin, but substantial numbers are Brazilian garimpeiros. The Director of the Forest People's Program of the World Rainforest Movement The World Rainforest Movement (WRM) is an international NGO and Indigenous Peoples' Groups network involved in efforts to defend the world's tropical forests against the forces that destroy them. , Marcus Colchester, declares that at first the inflow of garimpeiros
was a mere trickle, the prospectors trekking south into the Kanuku and Marudi Mountains. In early 1990, however, the flow accelerated dramatically, with 10,000 miners reportedly crossing into the land of the Patamona Indians at the headwaters of the Potaro. (1991, 11)
Article 108 in the Codigo de Mineracao, the text that regulates mining activity in Brazil, declares that garimpeiros are individuals who extract useful mineral substances through rudimentary mining techniques (Cleary 1990, 22). These garimpeiros have enormous control over mining activities and developed a reputation for ignoring the basic environmental regulations in their homeland and in Guyana. Brazilian miners are in Guyana on a short-term basis and therefore have little interest in conserving and protecting the environment (Fallon 2001; Stabroek News 30 July 2001). According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD OECD: see Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. ):
A major cause of environmental degradation is the presence of external environmental costs and the lack of well-defined property rights. Open access to many environmental resources free of charge means that producers lack incentives to take the full cost of environmental degradation into account. (1999b, 2)
Contemporary research has brought new ideas and methodological frameworks to the study of informal labour markets like small-scale gold mining (see Portes, Castells, and Benton 1989). Nevertheless, there has not been a substantial shift from the original position that workers in the informal markets do not have the ownership over the means of production Means Of Production is a compilation of Aim's early 12" and EP releases, recorded between 1995 and 1998. Track listing
The garimpeiros' incursions have also had a significant sociological impact. A virtual sub-culture has been created in the interior, resembling the lifestyle of the American "wild west." Alcoholism, prostitution, diseases, and crime are rife in mining sections of the interior (Colchester 1997, 73). Many young Amerindians, coastal Guyanese and Brazilians have found jobs in mines and are subsequently drawn to the "wild west" lifestyle in the jungle of Guyana. Saturday night fights for the "best" women and competition to father the most children from various women go back to the "good old days" of well-known gold miner Wellesley Baird (see Baird 1982). Recently, Trafficking of Amerindian girls has been reported (Stabroek News 15 June 2004). Guyanese anthropologist Janette Forte writes that Amerindian communities "located within mining districts have suffered the worst direct impacts--environmental degradation, social disruptions, the inflationary effects of mining as well as demographic change as outsiders have come to outnumber the local inhabitants" (1998, 91). HIV HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), either of two closely related retroviruses that invade T-helper lymphocytes and are responsible for AIDS. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of AIDS in the United States. infections have also increased in the interior regions (Carroll 2000, 159; New Scientist 2000). Some problems associated with migratory labour in the gold mines in Brazil and South Africa are also visible in Guyana:
Migration of city dwellers into the Amazon jungle region may increase the risk of transmission of HIV to indigenous people. Conversely, gold miners can become infected with HIV during contact with commercial sex workers in small villages near the mining areas. HIV can then be further transmitted to the miner's spouse and unborn children on his return to the city. Whether the miners contracted the infection while living in the jungle or whether they entered the region already infected is unclear; however, the high percentage [6.5%] of HIV infection in the population provides a reservoir for the disease in this region and warrants immediate public health intervention to curb its spread. (Palmer et al. 2002, 331)
Additionally, unknown quantities of gold are smuggled out daily. At the national level, gold smuggling not only eludes the grasp of the government but also robs the public coffers of funds that are badly needed for the control and management of these very mining operations. At the international level, gold and diamond smuggling have the potential to violate the Kimberley Protocol, which is intended to limit the trade in rough diamonds from some African countries, the proceeds of which provide funds for the illegal trade in arms armed for war; in a state of hostility.
See also: Arms and fuelling armed conflicts among rebel groups (MacAskill 2002). In 2001, Brazilian Federal Police in Burin District of Boa Vista seized US$2 million worth of diamonds and a 42.26-carat stone smuggled out of Guyana.
Interestingly, gold smuggling is usually considered to be what sociologists call a "crime without victims" (unless you are the state or the offender). Victimless crimes Crime where there is no apparent victim and no apparent pain or injury. This class of crime usually involves only consenting adults in activities such as Prostitution, Sodomy, and Gaming are difficult to control because in most cases there are not any aggrieved victims to bring charges (Robertson 1987, 203). Gold smuggling results from government control of foreign currency entering the country, the existence of a black market for foreign currencies, the better price of non-refined gold in other countries, tax avoidance The process whereby an individual plans his or her finances so as to apply all exemptions and deductions provided by tax laws to reduce taxable income.
Through tax avoidance, an individual takes advantage of all legal opportunities to minimize his or her state or federal , and money laundering The process of taking the proceeds of criminal activity and making them appear legal.
Laundering allows criminals to transform illegally obtained gain into seemingly legitimate funds. (Veiga 1997). Furthermore, the lack of transparency makes it difficult to know if revenues derived from small-scale gold mining accrue to the national treasury or are directly reinvested in the gold mining industry. Researchers have found that in "Tanzania, for example, the implementation of a mineral trade liberalization policy in the 1980s created to formalize ASM (1) (Association for Systems Management) An international membership organization based in Cleveland, Ohio. Founded in 1947 and disbanded in 1996, it sponsored conferences in all phases of administrative systems and management. (Artisanal Small Scale Mining) sector increased the legally traded gold production from US$0.55 to US$38.78m in 1992" (Hentschel et al. 2002, 30).
Certainly, the influx of Brazilian garimpeiros has brought new technologies, equipment, and cash to the gold mining industry. For instance, Brazilians have introduced technologies that are portable and easy to dismantle, a crucial advantage in the jungle of Guyana (Cleary 1990, 25). Nevertheless, they have also engaged in unregulated and rapacious mining practices. The presence of Brazilian miners has posed a serious threat to law and order and the environmental stability of many interior communities, including the Kaieteur gorge. Their influx into Guyana has to do with the failure of agrarian reforms and rural-settlement policies in Brazil, a crackdown on illegal gold mining in Brazil, the lack of border controls, and the slack monitoring of the interior regions of Guyana. Consequently, the interior region is essentially left open to plunder TO PLUNDER. The capture of personal property on land by a public enemy, with a view of making it his own. The property so captured is called plunder. See Booty; Prize. and pillage (Roopnarine 2000, 2003; Colchester 1997; Prabhala 2002). The government admits that small-scale mining is elusive and difficult to manage. The most serious challenges have been to stamp out to put an end to by sudden and energetic action; to extinguish; as, to stamp out a rebellion s>.
See also: Stamp illegal mining practices, gold smuggling, and environmental damage. The government has called for more public awareness to help the GGMC and EPA to monitor and control small-scale gold mining. It has also instituted guidelines and rules to disfavour foreigners, as the government believes that they are overrunning the mining business, evading the payment of royalties, and paying scant regard to the environment (including dumping untreated human waste into creeks and rivers). The new guidelines state that "foreign nationals bringing US$500,000 for direct investment in the mining sector could qualify for self-sponsorship and sponsor other foreigners. Those bringing a minimum of US$50,000 qualify for self-sponsorship alone." The protocol demands that "any foreign national found without a valid work permit would be prosecuted and fined G$100,000 or one year imprisonment Imprisonment
See also Isolation.
former federal maximum security penitentiary, near San Francisco; “escapeproof.” [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 218]
German prison ship in World War II. [Br. Hist. " (Stabroek News 2 April 2001, 17 April 2001, 24 May 2001).
Although these measures represent a significant step towards improving mining operations, and certainly bring in more revenue to the GGMC, serious doubts have emerged as to their likely efficacy. First, these new regulations were intended to encourage Brazilians to hire Guyanese. This has not been the case. Apart from negative mining practices, Brazilians usually get around environmental regulations by marrying Guyanese women and having them apply for land and mining concessions. Second, GGMC staff members have allowed Brazilian miners to operate in closed and disputed areas in exchange for kickbacks. For instance, in Mahdia, a major gold mining district in western Guyana, it is "a normal practice by mine officers to allow miners to operate in closed or disputed areas for 10% cut of the gold production" (Richards 2000b).
Resistance to Small-Scale Gold Mining
Aside from some concern from various international organizations such as Conservation International, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development, opposition to small-scale gold mining and environmental degradation comes mainly from Guyana Human Rights Association, the Amerindians, and the local newspapers. Most Guyanese are not genuinely concerned with the environmental effects of small-scale gold mining and mercury use because they are unaware of the dangers. Moreover, a majority of Guyanese are located a great distance from mining activities (90% of the Guyanese population lives on the narrow coastal belt), and therefore are not directly positioned to witness the environmental degradation firsthand, nor are they directly affected by careless mining practices. One must caution that urban markets rely on fish from interior regions, which might be exposed to mercury contamination. However, most fish for domestic consumption are caught in the coastal regions (which may be contaminated with pesticides used in the rice and sugar cane fields, although more research is needed to confirm this). Fish for export is caught about 400 miles into the Atlantic Ocean Atlantic Ocean [Lat.,=of Atlas], second largest ocean (c.31,800,000 sq mi/82,362,000 sq km; c.36,000,000 sq mi/93,240,000 sq km with marginal seas). Physical Geography
Extent and Seas
. In June 2000, the Institute of Applied Science and Technology was certifi ed to test for heavy metals heavy metals,
n.pl metallic compounds, such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and nickel. Exposure to these metals has been linked to immune, kidney, and neurotic disorders. in fish and fishery products. Local fishing industries had to confirm that their products have been tested by a certifi ed laboratory and are free from any toxic metals in order to be able to market their fish and fishery products to the European Union countries (Williams 2003).
Environmental concerns are not as widespread in Guyana as they are elsewhere in the world. Guyanese in general are not environmentally oriented and, therefore, there is little pressure on the government to protect the environment. Colonialism and Cooperative Socialism inculcated in Guyanese a feeling of environmental irresponsibility and neglect. The general population sees environmental protection as a government responsibility, and does not pressure the government for good environmental performance. Similarly, the government does not pressure citizens on environmental matters or hold them accountable for environmental destruction unless the case is blatant. Public awareness of environmental degradation, public pressure to solve environmental problems, and participation in decision-making are prerequisites for development and implementation of sound environmental policies. A number of countries in the Central and Eastern European states, which are similar to Guyana in regard to the transition to democracy, have taken environmental principles seriously. The application of these environmental principles has shown remarkable achievements and, in some cases, even matched or surpassed environmental achievements and standards in developed countries (see OECD 1999). One has to be careful, however, not to overstress o·ver·stress
tr.v. o·ver·stressed, o·ver·stress·ing, o·ver·stress·es
1. To place too much emphasis on.
2. To subject to excessive physical or emotional stress.
3. these achievements, since the economic system of Guyana is somewhat different from Central and Eastern European states. Not all countries respond similarly to environmental regulations and economic reforms, so measures should be taken to treat these countries on a one-to-one basis. The macro-economic instability in Guyana mitigates any substantial development towards sound environmental progress. Unless satisfactory economic growth is realized, environmental sustainability will be difficult to achieve.
Currently, there are no less than four separate Amerindian organizations--the Guyana Organization of Indigenous Peoples, the Amerindian People's Association The People's Association (abbreviation: PA , the National Amerindian Council, and the Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana--that have not only opposed negative small-scale gold mining practices but also have taken important roles in discussing environmental issues with the government, worked with local communities, and helped implement environmental projects. For example, Jean La Rose, an indigenous Guyanese woman, won the Goldman Environmental Prize The Goldman Environmental Prize is a prize given annually to grassroots environmental activists from six geographic areas: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America. , the world's highest prize for grassroots environmentalism environmentalism, movement to protect the quality and continuity of life through conservation of natural resources, prevention of pollution, and control of land use. . She has pressured the government to stop handing out mining concessions in tribal regions. These achievements are, however, not uniform in Guyana. Although some of these environmental groups have been around since colonial times, their voices have not had a serious impact. Not only do these organizations lack funding, but their causes have not gotten the attention and appeal in non-Amerindian Guyanese communities, including the Guyanese Parliament.
Amerindian communities in the interior are generally viewed as backward and primitive societies that have little to offer Guyana in terms of economic development (see Guyana Review 2001). Their supposed backwardness and communalism com·mu·nal·ism
1. Belief in or practice of communal ownership, as of goods and property.
2. Strong devotion to the interests of one's own minority or ethnic group rather than those of society as a whole. are regarded as impediments to growth and development, and therefore policies are implemented to utilize interior lands. The crux of the government argument is that some want the Amerindians to remain in poverty and backwardness "while the rest of the world rush forward to grasp opportunities for social and economic advancement" (see Ishmael 1995). At a conference of indigenous leaders in Guyana in 1999, Amerindian leaders expressed the impact of government policies on their environment:
The present situation with uncontrolled logging and mining is posing a threat to our peoples, our lands, our environment and our lives. We have heard many terrible stories from all regions of Guyana about the negative impact of these activities, all of which are taking place without our consent. In many cases, we are not even notifi ed that Government has given our lands to a mining or logging company. Our rivers have been destroyed in Region 1, in the Lower, Middle and Upper Mazaruni and in Region 8. Our forests have been raped and destroyed. In the Barama concession, the village of Oronoque was bulldozed to make way for Barama's compound. Their burial ground was dug up and desecrated. In Region 9, Government recently gave 5.1 million acres to the Vannessa mining company without consulting the people. This land belongs to the Wai Wai, Wapisiana and Macusi peoples. (Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana 1999)
Moreover, Amerindians are yet to receive title for their land, which paradoxically has always belonged to them. Following independence, the British Government and the Government of Guyana agreed that land rights should be granted to Amerindians. So far 6,000 square miles have been granted to Amerindians, far less than the 43,000 square miles they believe belong to them. The lack of official land titles has left Amerindians unable to prevent invasion of their land by miners from the coastal areas, Brazil, and Venezuela. Meanwhile, mining and logging concessions have been given to a host of multinational corporations.
Amerindians themselves and various international bodies have begun to challenge conventional views about Amerindians. Unfortunately, Amerindians have found it difficult to use the courts as an instrument to enforce accountability, partly because Guyanese judges are not sufficiently knowledgeable about the frequent technical problems so associated with environmental policy. Since the 1990s, the government and mining companies have been forced to take a more cautious approach towards Amerindian communities and the environment at large, but these initiatives have so far proved challenging.
This lobby [gold mining] has not been happy with the growing number of exploration and mining agreements secured by foreign gold mining companies, nor with charges leveled by indigenous communities and environmentalists that they have been responsible for widespread environmental damage, to rivers and riverbanks in particular. In contrast the gold mining lobby has tended to stress its national credentials, its pioneering role in opening up the interior and safeguarding the interior from being totally overrun by Brazilians and Venezuelans, and its contribution to both GDP and foreign exchange earnings. (Forte 1998, 75)
The laws of Guyana state that no Amerindian under 14 should be employed in mines, none should be employed over eight hours a day, and all should be protected against explosives and poisonous substances (Mars 1998, 60; see also Laws of Guyana, Mining Act, chapter 65:01). The International Labor Organization was instrumental in having Convention 182 ratified by 113 countries in 2001. Convention 182 states that the worst form of child labour is in the mines and should not be allowed. Guyana ratified Convention 182 in 2001. But a report in the Guyana Chronicle (2002) suggests that child labour exists in the formal and non-formal sector. There is no reliable information on how many children are involved in gold mining in Guyana (see Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2004). A few countries that provide data on child labour agree that 10,000-250,000 children are working full- or part-time in small-scale mines (see Jennings 1999). In Guyana, mining bosses and companies do not observe international and national labour regulations on a consistent basis, especially in far-fl ung areas in the interior.
Concluding Remarks and Recommendations
The assessment of small-scale gold mining in Guyana shows that it is not guided by safe and sound environmental standards. Gold mining operations continue to devastate dev·as·tate
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark. Guyana's interior. Creeks, rivers, and land are polluted with mercury and cyanide. Large tracts of vegetation are destroyed. Habitats are disturbed. Wildlife and Amerindian communities are displaced and poisoned. The government tries to curb predatory gold mining, but small-scale gold mining sites are numerous, mobile, and hard to reach. Guyana's environmental monitoring body is too weak to control bad mining practices. The country's poor economic standing coupled with fraud and corruption within the environmental regulatory bodies impair its ability to monitor mining activities effectively. Economic hardships drive many Guyanese--a majority with little knowledge of sustainable development--into small-scale gold mining. Poor salaries also leave environmental staff members susceptible to bribes and kickbacks.
Given these problems, this article suggests the following. First, the government should establish a separate environmental department, or a new branch within the environmental department, to control smallscale mining, to craft a set of government monitored incentives and sanctions that would strengthen environmental management and bring it closer to public and local concern as well as increase accountability, transparency, and participation. Second, the government should place environmental monitoring bodies in the interior not too far from mining sites, and provide them the technology to be mobile. Third, the government as well as private organizations should train and utilize the Amerindian population, especially village captains and councils, to deal with rule and regulation violations. Fourth, local regular meetings with the Amerindian population should be held to learn about their environmental concerns. Fifth, the government should provide some, even partial, environmental education programs for small-scale miners to learn about positive effects of sustainable development. Sixth, the government should establish a modern laboratory to carry out metallurgical analyses, geo-chemical tests, and environmental analyses of mining waste; these results must be disclosed to the public. Seventh, the government should institute restoration laws and enact a performance bond. Eight, more incentives should be provided for environmental staff workers as well as incentives for small-scale miners for good environmental practice. Also, the government should engage in a more aggressive campaign to have miners use retort. Finally, a national environmental fund should be set up to attract domestic revenues and international finance through grants, donors, and so on.
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appearance, visual aspect - outward or visible aspect of a person or thing
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University of the Virgin Islands UVI was founded as the College of the Virgin Islands on March 16, 1962. In 1986, it officially became one of the 117 U.S. historically black colleges and universities. The institution also changed its name in 1986 to the University of the Virgin Islands to reflect the growth and