Aussie mining company calls out Guyana government on bribes

An Australian mining company preparing to open a large-scale mine in Guyana has unwittingly handed the opposition a key elections issue on a platter by publicly condemning demands by government officials for bribes and inducements to help it get things done in the mineral-rich country.

Thanks to the successful filing of a no confidence motion by the seven-seat Alliance for Change (AFC) last month, general elections could be held later this year or early next year depending on whether parliament reconvenes from its summer break and votes on the issue in early October or whether the governing Indo-led People’s Progressive Party (PPP) decides to call an early date or not.

This week, Perth, Australia-based Troy Resources said in a statement that it absolutely won’t pay any bribes to government officials and regulators to get things done in relation to a large gold mine it is preparing to open in the west of the country near Venezuela next year.

This is so because it is still subjected to Australian laws on graft, transparency, and corruption whether or not it is at home or outside of its Australian home base.

It is unclear whether company officials knew what kind of impact the company statement would have as nearly every group in the country, be it religious, political or civic, has complained about the level of graft and greed among top PPP officials and their audacious displays of wealth on a daily basis.

Troy Resources more than hinted that some key documents officials should have signed off on already have not been attended to expeditiously so it took the unusual step of going public with its complaint in a newspaper advertisement about plans for the mine and the way it operates at home and abroad.

“It should be noted that any form of payment or inducement to individuals and organizations to expedite, seek favors, get unfair advantage or to circumvent official procedures in any country of operation is unlawful under Australian corporate law and any breach is regarded as a serious crime which may result in a prison sentence for any company officer engaging in this practice.”

The statement comes as the firm announced that it has already spent $5 million on heavy duty equipment it would need at its mine in the western jungles while it awaits the signing of its mineral agreement with government to allow it to expedite the construction of its mine site and begin mining as planned in 2015.

The firm recently announced that it had secured $87 million in financing to build its open pit mine, plants, and tailings waste ponds but warned that it is not in the habit of paying inducements to get things done.

The miners association of which the company is a member chimed in this week saying that it is quite “aware of the frustrations” Troy is experiencing, noting that it has raised the issue at recent meetings with executives.

Spokesman Colin Sparman said that the company ”has faced a lot of hurdles but is determined not to bribe anyone to get things done. They have told us that they don’t do things that way and are very frustrated with the red tape in Guyana,” Sparman said.

Opposition parties and rights groups have persistently complained about the level of corruption in the country. The issue is the main reason a parliamentary opposition party successfully filed a no confidence motion against government last month. The issue is to be debated in the opposition controlled 65-member parliament in early October. A successful vote will result in general elections in 90 days and about two years before constitutionally due.

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