Extractive Industries and Infrastructure Development

Mining and forestry activities continue to be a major concern to indigenous peoples in Guyana. This is especially the case with gold mining, since  the recently increasing gold price has prompted a surge in the number of miners, both legal and illegal (many of them from Brazil), and issuing of concessions and permits by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC). The impacts of mining include pollution of rivers used for fishing, bathing, drinking and cooking; increased social problems due to the presence of outsiders; and health problems, among others.  . The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, which according to its own admission is seriously understaffed, has issued numerous concessions on both titled and untitled lands, even though it cannot effectively monitor either the concessions granted nor illegal miners. Concessions are granted and extended without community consultation. In many cases resource rights have been issued to third parties on traditional Amerindian lands without the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of affected indigenous communities.

Infrastructure development in the interior also represents a threat to  indigenous communities. Many are concerned about planned hydro dams  that will serve the national electrification needs under the auspices of the LCDS. The most renowned and controversial at the moment isthe Amaila Falls Dam. This project  seems to be moving ahead, with a road being started even before the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was complete. The dam will flood 23km2 of forest, yet adequate consultation with neighbouring communities has not been carried out. Several of the communities have not received any official information about the dam, while those that have report that the meetings held by the project developer, Sithe Global, focused solely on the alleged benefits of the dam and that they still feel unaware of how it can negatively affect them.

Links

Environmental Social Impact Assessment Update Report (ESIA) – January 2011

[1] See http://www.stabroeknews.com/2011/news/stories/05/10/sithe-global-hosts-community-meetings-on-amaila-falls-hydro-project/