Saturday, September 5, 2009

Why were mining officials present at an EIA scoping exercise?

Why were mining officials present at an EIA scoping exercise?

Posted By Stabroek staff On September 5, 2009 @ 5:02 am In Letters | No Comments

Dear Editor,

We refer to the report in your newspaper captioned, ‘Residents query benefits of Marudi Mt gold mining’ (September 1). It began by pointing out the “limited skills of the residents of South Rupununi,” which we found offensive. Local and indigenous communities across the globe possess a wide variety of skills. We are not sure what measure was used to gauge the skill levels of the South Rupununi residents.

However, that was not the major problem with the events as described in your newspaper. Our understanding (probably limited as well) is that this was a public scoping exercise as part of the wider Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. We are therefore confused as to why residents were probed on their opinion of the perceived benefits of the mining project to them and their communities. It would have been ideal (some would say logical) if the opinions of residents as to whether they wanted gold mining in or near their communities would have been garnered prior to the granting of the mining licence.

Secondly, we are a bit concerned that in an EIA, (a process that is supposed to be fair and independent), the mining company executives and officials were present at the scoping exercise. It seemed from your article that it served as a scoping exercise and a public relations event for the mining company. Further confusion surrounds the fact that the EPA (which is supposed to be independent and established to safeguard the interests of the environment and thus local communities, shared a forum with the mining company, whose EIA application it has yet to approve.

This EIA process seems to have been compromised even before it began.

Yours faithfully,
Candice R. Ramessar
Everall Franklin MP

Editor’s note

SN simply reported what was discussed at the meeting. The issue of whether members of the local community had the requisite skills to undertake certain jobs in the mining operation was raised by the villagers themselves. It was addressed by Mr Charles Ceres, consultant to the EIA who said there was need for a capacity building programme in the communities.

Skills in this context refers to expertise or know-how acquired as a consequence of training, not to innate abilities.

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