No security concerns in survey deal

No security concerns in survey deal – Urling

Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) President Clinton Urling said Guyana should not be concerned about any security threat resulting from its grant of an exploration permit to a company to carry out geophysical survey in the New River Triangle area, asserting that the land belongs to this country and that Georgetown should not be too overly bothered by Suriname’s reaction.

He said that the only issue that should be addressed is if the government is willing to revise its current policy of not permitting mining in the specified area, noting that the administration will have to ensure that if it indeed changes its policy on mining in the area, then it should take into consideration commitments related to the Guyana-Norway agreement on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and how funding from that arrangement can be affected if mining in the specified area negatively affects control of Guyana’s total forest degradation levels.

Urling is the latest public figure to add his voice to the growing storm over the granting of the Permission for Geological and Geophysical Survey (PGGS) to Muri Brasil Ventures Incorporated and why Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud did not tell a parliamentary committee about this when he had met the body.

Persaud, his ministry and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) have been criticised for the deal after a copy of the PGGS was leaked to the media.

No underhand arrangement

In a letter to the editor, Urling said “I do not believe there was any intent by Mr Robert Persaud, the minister of natural resources and the environment to subvert due process and instead engage in some underhanded arrangement with the company.”

According to Urling, the issuance of PGGS is nothing new to Guyana, pointing out that Pharsalus Incorporated was granted a PGGS in 2007 by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds. At the time, the GGMC was led by Commissioner William Woolford. It was pointed out that the PGGS issued in 2007 is not far flung from the one issued in November 2012.

“During the duration of the permission, the permittee shall have the right to apply to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission for, and shall be granted, a maximum of 20 prospecting licences for radioactive minerals and rear earth elements,” a clause in the 2007 PGGS read.

In accordance with the 2012 PGGS, Muri Brasil Ventures can apply for the maximum of 18 prospecting licences (PL). According to the Mining Act, Article 30, Chapter 2, a PL shall be granted if the applicant can demonstrate adequate financial and technical expertise to carry out an effective prospecting operation and can show that it has an adequate prospecting programme or operational plan.

On Tuesday, Muri Basil Ventures broke its silence on the PGGS it was issued on November 7, 2012 for several types of minerals in South East Berbice in the vicinity of the New River Triangle.

The locally registered company disclosed that exploration activities have not commenced in the disputed area as permission is being sought for the construction of a small airstrip to facilitate the airborne aspect of the survey. However, other research activities have taken place.

While making it clear that it was never issued a prospecting licence or mining licence, the Muri Brasil Ventures expressed the hoping of acquiring the relevant documents to facilitate mining if the study proves to be feasible.

“These kinds of exploration activities cost millions of U.S. dollars, which can only be sourced as exploration investments from outside of Guyana. No such investments would be available if the investor is given no assurance that he will be granted prospecting licences. The investor takes a risk. If he or she is not assured of a potential return, investment capital will dry up and so will Guyana’s mining industry.”