Toward the Greening of the Gold Mining Sector of Guyana: Transition Issues and Challenges

Jul 2017
Guyana is a country with abundant mineral wealth. Extractive industries, along with agriculture, drive the economy. Mining poses several inherent challenges due to its negative impact on the environment, its relatively high level of capital intensitycompared to other main productive activities, and the heavy enforcement demands on understaffed and underfunded regulatory institutions, especially when the vast majority of miners are highly dispersed artisanal, small, medium-scale (ASM) miners. This paper surveys recent developments and trends in the Guyanese gold mining sector, the most important of the five mining subsectors, and analyses the issues surrounding the transition to more environmentally sustainable mining practices. Perverse incentives exist between maximizing private profits, honoring government royalty payments, generating gainful employment, on the one hand, and overcoming the economic and cost constraints of complying with environmentally responsible and sustainable practices in the ASM sector, on the other. The paper makes recommendations on how to better align incentives, especially to bridge the financing and knowledge gaps, to permit optimal extraction of the resource, promote environmental sustainability, and improve public–private collaboration.