Guyana suspends mining permits amidst pollution fears
No new permits for gold and diamond mining to be issued until further notice.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday July 11, 2012 – The Guyana government has suspended the granting of new permits to mine for gold and diamonds in rivers following concerns over widespread pollution.
The move comes as prices for gold have soared in global markets, with many investors seeking the relatively safe haven offered by the precious metal.
Guyana’s ministry for natural resources and the environment has nevertheless said that the country's geology and mines commission has been instructed to stop issuing fresh permits until further notice.
Authorities say they will consult with indigenous communities, who depend on the rivers for drinking water and fishing, and other people living near rivers before deciding on the next step.
Mining has damaged river banks, altered the flow of the waterways, caused erosion and polluted sources of drinking water, officials say. The heavy sediment in the water has also affected plant and fish life.
Numerous Canadian and Brazilian miners continue to flock to Guyana seeking gold, which closed at US$1,587 an ounce on the London Bullion Market last week.
More than 363,083 ounces of gold were officially declared in Guyana in 2011, but authorities believe a similar amount is smuggled into neighbouring countries where the taxes are lower.