Gold Board sold 383 ounces of gold in 2023

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

For the entirety of last year, the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) sold just 383 ounces of gold.

This is juxtaposed against the fact that a recent bust at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) netted 240 ounces of gold that were about to be smuggled.

On Tuesday, goldsmiths from across the country gathered at Duke Lodge in Georgetown to meet with the Ministry of Natural Resources and relevant agencies to discuss issues in the sector.

One such issue was that not enough goldsmiths are purchasing the refined gold sold by the GGB, as they are legally mandated to do.

At the session, the Gold Board’s General Manager Eondrene Thompson revealed how much gold has been purchased from her agency from 2019 to date – amounts even she admitted were small, compared to the number of jewelers in operation.

“In 2019, we had 497 ounces purchased from the Guyana Gold Board. In 2020, we had 268 ounces. In 2021, we had 460, in 2022 we had 524. And I did not analyze what caused the spike here. In 2023, we had 383. In 2024, as of May 31, we had 178 (ounces).”

“I can dare say, also, we know that it’s really a small amount, compared to the jewellers,” Thompson further said.

Earlier this month, two US citizens and one Guyanese were intercepted with US$560,000 worth of raw gold at the airport at Timehri. The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) reported that customs officers, with the support of officers attached to the Natural Resources Ministry and the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), unearthed 240 ounces of pure (raw) gold disguised as silver-plated jewellery on outgoing passengers on an American Airlines’ flight to JFK Airport in New York. The gold was confiscated after the three passengers were unable to produce the required permit and declaration to customs officials.

The three suspects: Ian Jacobis, 44, of Plantation Best, West Coast Demerara, along with US-based Shameena Ahamad, 52, and her 34-year-old daughter Ashiana Salamaly, both of Roraima Scheme, West Bank Demerara, were arraigned in a magistrate’s court charged for the offence of exporting gold without a licence – in contravention of Section 8 of the Guyana Gold Board Act, Chapter 66:01, and contrary to section 23 (a) of the said Guyana Gold Board Act, Chapter 66:01. They have all been placed on bail.

Meanwhile, during his presentation at the Duke Lodge consultation, Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat had noted that there are over 100 registered goldsmiths in the country. And while the law mandates that goldsmiths buy gold from the State, he acknowledged that in some cases goldsmiths work with materials brought by the clients themselves.

“There’s this issue of people bringing gold to you. I’m sure many of you, when you have your chance, what happens when people bring their gold to you? Because we know that is a common practice in Guyana. That people will bring, whether they have old jewellery or jewellery given to them, maybe as gifts from their parents or grandparents. And they bring it to you to remodify or redesign. And then in some cases, people may have other forms of gold that they bring to you.”

“We’re asking that in compliance, you note all these instances and you submit it to us…We set a timeframe, maybe quarterly, and we get the information. I don’t think that’s an issue for you either. We and the relevant agencies will deal with it. And the point is that we just want the origin of this gold that you’re using, to come from a legal source. That’s all. That’s the bottom line. We’re not witch-hunting or anything else.”