Conservation International-Guyana (CI Guyana) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and other major stakeholders, launched the GEF Global Opportunities for Long-term Development (GEF-GOLD) project in the Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) Sector in Guyana on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at the Pegasus Hotel.
During his address at the launch, Executive Director and Vice President of CI Guyana Dr. David Singh emphasized the importance of partnerships in realizing the successful implementation of solutions like GEF-GOLD.
"CI's work is about building bridges and partnerships. So far in our initiative I've witnessed what is possible if we take a longer view of issues, where problems are seen as things that need to be resolved rather than seeing them as the excuse to walk away," Dr. Singh said.
The GEF investment of some US$3M over the next four years, Dr. Singh explained, is expected to produce a well-designed intervention which, by 2020 will see mining operators in at least one geographical region of Guyana introduce into the market, gold products that are shown to have met key environmental and social safeguards, that demonstrate improved significantly higher recovery rates and close to zero mercury use in processing – these products will be branded "El Dorado Gold".
"[T]hink of it as green gold for a greener Guyana," he said.
GEF-GOLD combines utilization of a supply chain approach to identify opportunities to improve efficiency of the ASGM sector and a Sustainable Landscape Approach to situate the mining activities spatially and temporally.
It is also underscored by a Rights Based Approach integrating effective and inclusive stakeholder involvement, Indigenous Peoples, and gender. Through this initiative a wide range of stakeholders in the sector are being engaged in processes to design policy, technological, financial and other solutions to ensure that:
1. Gold mining activities are only carried out in places where viable deposits are located;
2. Effective integrated planning is implemented to reduce the impact of exploitation on forests and fresh water as well as improve the livelihood impact of the sector;
3. More efficient methods are employed to improve the recovery of gold from ore and reduce the use of Mercury;
4. Markets are established for ASM gold and gold products certified to have been produced responsibly; and
5. Mining sites are rehabilitated for planned after-use.
Dr. Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Director of Programmes, delivered the keynote address at the launch. The GEF-GOLD program, according to him, is being implemented in eight countries around the world by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and centers on the reduction of mercury use and releases to the environment from the ASGM Sector.
In Guyana the project will contribute to mercury-free mining by 2025 by directly involving business enterprises with a profit motive for leading the shift in the development of a mercury free ASGM value chain.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, and Senior Vice President for the Americas Field Division of Conservation International, Dr. Sebastian Troeng, and other important partners were also present and spoke encouragingly about the GEF-GOLD initiative.