(GuyanaChronicle)THE number of small-and-medium-scale gold miners has significantly increased over the past two years, largely due to the many incentives given out by the government to encourage growth in the sector.
According to Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat, notwithstanding a slight decline in gold production in the Mid-Year Report, this was mainly due to issues being faced by Guyana’s two large-scale producers, whereas production by small-and-medium-scale miners saw substantial increase.
“It means that a lot of our Guyanese miners are going back into mining and they’ve been expanding their operations. It comes because of the incentives that government has given to the mining sector, as well as other sectors,” Bharrat said.
Over the past two years, measures implemented by the government to bring relief to miners included tax concessions for recapitalisation, the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on heavy-duty equipment and machines, removal of duty and VAT from All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), a significant reduction in duty on four-door pickups of a certain engine size, the reduction of the final tax from 3.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent, the removal of VAT on lubricating oil, the removal of certain unnecessarily burdensome requirements related to the licensing of equipment and the transportation of fuel and increased hinterland infrastructural development.
The miners also received major tax relief with the National Assembly’s approval of the Fiscal Enactment Amendment Bill No. 2 of 2022, which saw the complete removal of the burdensome Tributor’s tax.
“We’ve been doing all of this to ensure that we incentivise the mining sector because we’ve committed ourselves to ensure we work to build the non-oil sector and not only focus on oil and gas. So this is one way of the government showing its commitment to the mining sector,” Bharrat explained.
Bharrat highlighted that the government has also done major investment in infrastructure to improve miners’ accessibility to their lands. He noted that accessibility has been a major bugbear for many small-and-medium-scale miners.
“Over the last two years, the Ministry of Natural Resources and GGMC [Guyana Geology and Mines Commission] spent over $6 billion on hinterland infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges and culverts. Over the last two years there’s been significant damage to the infrastructure due to the flooding and heavy rainfall, so we’ve expended a lot of money in ensuring that those areas are accessible again,” Bharrat said.
He added: “It’s not only about giving back to miners but ensuring access to land too. That would have increased in the last year significantly, and shown or resulted in increased production of the small-and-medium-scale miners in Guyana. The complaints from small miners have always been accessibility getting to that land and that is why we have been investing significantly in the infrastructure.”
Notwithstanding the slight dip in the gold production reported, Guyana is on track to see massive increases in the coming year given the work and exploration activities currently ongoing. These include the commencement of underground mining by both of Guyana’s two large-scale gold mining companies, the Australian-owned Troy Resources and Chinese-owned Aurora Gold Mines (AGM) Inc.
“This is the first time that any company is venturing into underground mining so the foundation is being set for increased production. The investment is made now, and in the next two to three years down the road you will see how much significant increase in production,” Bharrat noted.