GUYANA-HEALTH-Government says no official report linking workers deaths to mercury

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The Guyana government Saturday said there is no formal report indicating that the recent deaths of workers employed with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) had been linked to their exposure to mercury.
mercuryA statement by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) followed media reports here indicating that four workers had died after being exposed to mercury over a six-month period.
“There is simply no existing empirical data which establish that mercury is responsible for the deaths of miners and GGMC workers in recent times,” it said.
The state-owned Guyana Chronicle newspaper Saturday quoted “a senior functionary” of the GGMC as confirming the deaths but “urged that the public await official reports before arriving at conclusions”.
Mercury use in the mining industry is decades old. The mineral is used to amalgamate gold.
In April, the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) ceased burning raw gold in GGMC’s Brickdam Complex due to health and safety concerns. It outsourced the burning of raw gold at the facilities to one of its licenced dealers.
There has since been continuous testing and treatment for the presence of mercury, cleaning of the compound and equipment and fast-tracking arrangements for relocation of the GGB’s facilities and staff.
The statement said that the David Granger administration is committed to eradicating the use of mercury in mining. It signed and ratified the Minamata Convention for the eradication of the use of mercury in mining in October 2013.
Meanwhile, the MNR said it has been “working assiduously” with several ministries and agencies including, “to ensure that the current issues are resolved to the satisfaction of the workers”.
It said it “will again engage the workers about any grievances that may exist,” insisting that the exposure to mercury emissions was “through no fault” of the GGMC or GGB.
The Ministry of Natural Resources said it remains “unequivocal in its position that the safety, health and general wellbeing of our workers is our top priority”.

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