Date: Sat, 15 Nov 97 13:20:10 CST
From: saiic@igc>apc>org (SAIIC)
Subject: Urgent - Coal Mining: Urgent Action Alert - Guyana
The Amerindian Peoples Association and the leaders of the Macusi, Wapisiana and Wai Wai communities of Southern Guyana are requesting international support to stop the granting of two large mining concessions to Canadian company, Vannessa Ventures Ltd.
Canadian mining company, Vannessa Ventures Ltd. of Vancouver has applied for two large mining concessions in southern Guyana. These concessions enclose most of southern Region 9, including at least 9 Wapisiana and Macusi villages. They also affect many more communities whose hunting, fishing and forest areas are inside the concessions. Some of these areas, like as the Kanuku Mountains, are also of important ecological value and have been proposed as protected areas.
Between October 30 and November 1, the Touchaus (village leaders), village councilors and other community leaders of the Wapisiana, Macusi and Wai Wai peoples held the 1st Conference of Region 9 Tou haus. The Conference was attended by 23 Touchaus and as many village councilors representing Amerindian communities from the Brazilian border in the south to the South Pakarimas on the northern bor er of the Region. Almost every community in Region 9 was represented. The Touchaus stated their unequivocal opposition to the Vannessa concessions and demanded that their rights to their ancestral l nds be legally recognised in accordance with international human rights law.
The Touchaus Conference passed a resolution concerning the Vannessa concessions. The resolution, unanimously approved, reads:
We the Touchaus, Councillors and other community leaders of Region 9, hereby declare our total disagreement with the Government's proposal to grant license for mineral exploration concession to Van essa Ventures Ltd. in Region 9 and more particularly within Amerindian lands.
We believe that we have the right to participate in decisions about the use of our lands and to give our consent prior to any form of permission being granted to logging, mining and other companies perating on or near our lands. Instead of granting mining concessions on our ancestral lands, we demand that the Government fully recognize our rights to these lands in accordance with internationa l aw.
In order to oppose the granting of Vannessa's mining exploration license, we the Touchaus and Councilors have formed the Region 9 Amerindian Council to fight against the granting of these concession and to represent us on other pressing issues. Again, we are categorically opposed to the granting of mining exploration licenses to Vannessa Ventures Ltd on or near our lands.
In another resolution passed by the Conference, the Touchaus stated that they will demarcate their own lands and then demand that the Government recognize and certify the areas they have demarcated.
Little is known about Vannessa. It has changed its name 3 times in the past 12 years - from Boch and Limoges Ltd. in July 1994; from Limoges Porcelains in October 1988 and; from Ida-May Resources td. in October 1985. In addition to Guyana, where it holds a number of medium scale mining permits and has applied for a total of 4 million acres of concessions, it also has a number of other holdi gs and subsidiaries in Northern Brazil and Venezuela. Vannessa' concessions in Brazil and Venezuela also cover large areas of Indigenous lands.
In Brazil it has a 100% interest in the Trombetas prospect of 350,000 hectares, with an additional 570,000 hcts., under application, at Oriximina in Para State and the 40,000 hct., Anaua prospect, S o Luiz do Anaua in Roraima State, Brazil. The Trombetas concession is adjacent to the border with Guyana. In April 1997, it acquired El Dorado Norte-Empresa de Mineracao Ltda. of Boa Vista along w th rights to 35 titled concessions of 346,000 hcts., and 74 concessions under application totaling 702,000 hcts., in Para and Roraima.
Vannessa has also reached an agreement with a private Brazilian mining
company to explore 15 concessions of approximately 150,000 hcts.,
in the Santa Rosa area of Northern Roraima. This area was un il
recently closed off to mining as it was being used as a staging post
for the miners entering Yanomami territory. According to Vannessa,
rights to the area
will position Vannessa on the front li e of the
exploration of this as yet undeveloped region. They don't
mention the Yanomami or the devastating problems experienced by them
in connection with mining.
Vannessa's concessions make it one of the largest land holders in Guyana. Not even Golden Star Resources, which has 5 large concessions in Guyana, two of them joint ventures with Australian, BHP, h s as much land in concession. As with Golden Star, Indigenous peoples once again are the victims. While the Government clearly bears the majority of the blame for not recognizing Indigenous rights to land and participation in decisions related to the use of their lands, Vannessa and others like them appear more than happy to take advantage of this situation.
Please support the APA and the Touchaus by writing polite but firm letters or faxes to Vannessa and the Government of Guyana requesting that the application for mining concessions be withdrawn (in t e case of Vannessa) or denied (Government) and that the land rights of the Wapisiana, Macusi and Wai Wai peoples be recognized in accordance with their freely expressed wishes.
Send letters or faxes to:
Manfred Peschke, President and CEO
Vannessa Ventures Ltd
1040 W. Georgia St.
Vancouver, BC V6E 4H1
His Excellency Samuel Hinds
President of Guyana
Office of the President
New Garden Street
Please send copies of letters or faxes to the APA at the address below.
For further information please contact,
Forest Peoples Programme
1c, Fosseway Business Centre
Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 9NQ
Tel; 44 1608; 652 893 Fax 44 1608 652 878
Email : email@example.com
Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana
71 Quamina Street