Monday, May 26, 2008

Fates of Hecla de Venezuela, Las Cristinas (Crystallex International) and Las Brisas del Cuyuni (Gold Reserve) to be handed down this week!

Quoting its own sources at the Ministry of Basic Industries & Mines (Mibam), local newspaper El Diario de Guayana says (in its Monday editions) that final decisions on the fates of Hecla de Venezuela, Las Cristinas (Crystallex International) and Las Brisas del Cuyuni (Gold Reserve) will be handed down this week.

The report appears to confirm central govenrment policy that, according to Venezuela's socialist model, ownership of the country's resources should remain in the hands of the state, thus avoiding transfers of ownership such as recently happened in the case of iron & steel giant Siderurgica del Orinoco (Sidor) or the transfger of Hecla's mining rights in El Callao and Sifontes municipalities to CVG-Minerven for re-assignment under operating contract to the Russian Agapov group.

As regards the Las Brisas del Cuyuni Project (Gold Reserve) close to Las Cristinas (Crystallex International) the El Diario de Guayana report claims there is a similar situation inasmuch as it was first reported that they had received environmental permits, which were then were terminated along with the granting of rights.

"The situation is generally known, although no official announcement has been made of any such decisions."

El Diario de Guayana says that according to information received, "a group of technocrats" in central government has advocate that the gold industry should be in State hands while organized small-scale mining should be allowed via collectives in a trend towards mixed development. There are radically opposing views as to how small-scale mining should be organized with some believing that mining should be structured in three main and complementary blocs: industry, small and artisanal.

An influential group argues that there have been positive experiences from alliances between small-scale gold miners and gold industry giants ... the Agapov Group has significant investments in Sifontes and Callao and they have reached agreements on funding, technology and development of small-scale mining, and that these experiences should increase.
Las Claritas miner Felipe Gonzalez is suggesting that small-scale miners in the area of Las Cristinas, with 14 million ounces of gold, should be given plots on the concession, since small-scale mining can coexist with industrial mining ... he says that the emblematic Las Cristinas area is simply waiting for the integration of small-scale and industrial mining.

The status quo today is that while Las Cristinas remains the property of the Venezuelan Guayana Corporation (CVG) and therefore in State ownership, the contract to operate the mine was signed with Crystallex International Corporation and although it has not officially been announced, it appears that the Environment Ministry has refused permits to start Las Cristinas.

There is, however, the possibility of a "negotiated clarification" to be announced by President Hugo Chavez himself after two weeks of embittered wrangling between environment Minister Yubiri Ortega de Carrizales and Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz.

Even if the environment permits situation is cleared up, there is still debate over what will happen with Las Brisas del Cuyuni (Gold Reserve) ... its statis is still "up in the air" since Gold Reserve is still clinging to a claim that it has ownership of the concession, it either has to move to an operating contract or relinquish any claim it might have had on now extinct concessionary rights.


Venezuela is facing the most difficult period of its history with honest reporters crippled by sectarianism on top of rampant corruption within the administration and beyond, aided and abetted by criminal forces in the US and Spanish governments which cannot accept the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people to decide over their own future.


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