UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Rentier nation : landlordism, patronage and power in Guyana’s gold mining sector Bulkan, Janette; Palmer, John


The consequences are examined of the revision of Guyana's Mining Act in 1989 that was intended to allow access to international mining companies while safeguarding national interests. One outcome was the acquisition of over 75% of small-scale and over 40% of medium-scale concessions by a small number of nationals. Landlordism expanded following the spike in the international gold price from 2006. The State’s failure to modify the poorly construed mining law, and to enforce the Regulations, enables the continued capture of the excess rent from gold sales by rentiers without commensurate responsibility for them to remedy the environmental degradation. Evidence of financial losses to the State from the renting of concessions and the smuggling of gold is presented. The legal protections of Indigenous Peoples are not enforced. The legal protections of mining workers are inadequate. We recommend: making the mining licence holder legally responsible for ensuring compliance with all Regulations on every concession; the implementation of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to safeguard Indigenous rights in both titled and customary territories; the capture of excess rent from gold sales for a sovereign wealth fund; and full transparency so as to end insider trading in concessions.

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