Within the last decade, Guyana has made two bold, progressive moves toward sustainable development – introducing a Low Carbon Development Strategy (2009) and signing the Minamata Convention on Mercury (2013) – knowing that it must overcome significant obstacles to live up to its commitments.
The country’s extractives sector, particularly gold mining, is an important engine of economic growth for Guyana. It also drives deforestation and, through its artisanal and small-scale gold mining activity, contributes to mercury pollution. Guyana’s challenge is to support its extractives sector while also ensuring that its economic growth is aligned with mercury-free, low-carbon development.
Approximately 20,000 people in Guyana are employed by mining-related activity, with almost all of the sector’s yield delivered by small- and medium-scale mining operations. Many of these operators require improved skills and knowledge to reduce the negative impacts of their activities while increasing their production yields.
In collaboration with the Government of Guyana and the IDB, CIRDI embarked on a program to develop and deliver locally relevant technical skills courses for Guyanese workers that will contribute to more sustainable mining practices. The CIRDI program focused on promoting technical skills upgrading to government employees who work directly with the miners. Through a “train-the-trainers” approach, this training aimed to achieve sustainable outcomes by leaving a legacy of qualified instructors after the conclusion of the project.
This project included a review of existing initiatives and technology and possible synergies to determine needs for training delivery. Field visits to mine sites allowed the CIRDI team to assess the most appropriate and effective technology and tailor effective practices for each area. Training curriculum was designed and delivered in close collaboration with relevant stakeholders to help guarantee the training closely matched industry needs to mitigate environmental risks and increase environmental sustainability.
Training programs were delivered in-country and primarily targeted staff of the government departments who work directly with the artisanal and small-scale gold miners. Training topics included:
Following the training program, a seven-country scoping study produced profiles of ASGM sectors in the Latin America and Caribbean region to inform partnerships and initiatives on environmentally and socially responsible practices.
This project increased Guyana’s human capital by strengthening local capabilities in natural resource governance. Through curricula development and course delivery, CIRDI promoted technical skills upgrading specifically related to greener and sustainable mining practices among the local labor force in Guyana.
A detailed needs assessment provided important background and baseline data used to develop training sessions that reached a total of 44 trainees from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), related agencies and several NGOs. A more intensive 5-day training program improved the capacity of 26 government officers to engage with and improve practices of miners.
A regional scoping study profiled and compared the ASGM sectors of seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (Brazil, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, Panama) and identified potential for regional collaboration to decrease the environmental footprint of ASGM. The report identifies skills gaps that contribute to environmental damage and impede environmental compliance. It also investigates potential capacity building initiatives and training models that can applied across the region.