From: Bert Wilkinson, Associated Press
Published August 3, 2007 12:00 AM

Illegal Miners Excavate Road in Remote Guyana Town in Search of Gold, Diamonds

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Miners searching for gold and diamonds knocked out water service to thousands as they dug up the main road leading to a remote Guyanese jungle community, severing underground pipes.


Guyanese authorities traveled to the mining village of Mahdia near the nation's border with Brazil to stop dozens of small-scale miners from churning up more roads and leaving deep trenches in their search for diamonds and gold deposits.


"No mining of roadways will be allowed. This is unlawful," Public Works Minister Robeson Benn said Thursday in a phone interview shortly after ordering a halt to all unlicensed mining in the mountain community about 200 miles (322 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Georgetown.


Kellawan Lall, an adviser to Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo, said the government will have to cut a new road through dense forest due to the extensive damage by unlicensed Guyanese miners and Brazilian prospectors, or "garimpeiros."


"From what we have seen it would be too costly to repair the roads," he said.


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The illegal prospectors used a mechanical dredger and traditional pickaxes in recent days to excavate sections of the main road leading into Mahdia, according to Lall.


Workers on Thursday were repairing severed underground water pipes that supply nearly 15,000 inhabitants. Authorities could not estimate when service would be restored.


Exports of mined bauxite, gold and diamonds is Guyana's third biggest industry after sugar and rice.


Source: Associated Press


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