Community ReportNews

Challenges in Sand Mining not sitting well with Essequibo operators  

During a meeting with the Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat on Saturday in Esseqjibo, sandpit operators living on the Essequibo Coast, voiced several concerns that affected them in the sand mining industry.

Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat

They complained bitterly that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Lands and Survey Commission, needs to adopt a hands-on approach towards the sand mining industry.

There are three major sand mining communities on the Essequibo Coast. The Capoey and Mainstay/ Whayaka communities, which are both indigenous communities, are managed by their village councils, while the Onderneeming Sandpit is managed by a co-op.

A group of residents at the meeting on Saturday

Toshao of the Capoey community, Mr. Ralph Hendricks, said that GGMC has not conducted any survey for a year; sighting that this exercise was once done monthly.

“Since Covid is here, I have an issue with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission… since March we didn’t have a surveyor come and survey our production of sand… that survey was once done monthly and it has not been done over a year… I want to see those persons back in our sand pit.” the Toshao stated.

He also used the opportunity, to request a road, which will link his community’s sandpit to the main access road.

“We will also like to have a road leading to the sand pit. I spoke with Mr. Edghil, he said that it will be done, but we are asking that the road be done from the sand pit to the man access road.”

A representative from the Mainstay/Whayaka community, told Minister Bharrat that her community’s sandpit has been closed since July last.

“The authorities said that we weren’t in compliance. After a year we tried again to comply but it wasn’t reopened… That sandpit is almost depleted right now so we will have to be relocated to another area… we were also fined because we operated the sand pit for years and there was always a conflict between the community and the authority… We are asking if you can weaver that fine because the village is in no position to pay that fine.” Said the representative.

In response to the Mainstay/Whayaka sandpit being closed down by the authorities, the Minister of Natural resources revealed his findings.

“The commissioner of Guyana Lands and Survey said that the reason the mining was stopped, is because the activity was encroaching on the housing area.”

The Minister said that a joint team from GGMC and GLSC, will visit each community next week, in an effort to have each mining pit fully operational.

“We will send back a team from GGMC and Lands and Survey to see if the mining can resume… There are a number of investments that will be coming your way soon and sand will be in demand.” Said the Minister.