AVN.- To dismantle clandestine landing strips, to tackle mafias and to implement plans to legalize small mining are some of the actions the Venezuelan Government is taking to promote the sovereign management of the resources located on the Orinoco’s Mining Arch, in Bolivar state.
Minister for Ecological Mining Development, Jorge Arreaza said the legalization of small miners is one of the plans being carried out by his office to eradicate illegal activity that results in smuggling of minerals into neighboring countries, mainly Colombia and Aruba.
“There is a great interest of miners to be legalized, and we have the urgency of them being legalized as well. It is a symbiosis that is being generated,” said Arreaza in a meeting with the media held in his office in Caracas.
Through this plan, he stressed, the state buys the gold mined by small miners at a fair and competitive price, and then these bars are included into the vaults of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) to strengthen international reserves. In recent months, the said body has received more than 1.4 tons of gold from El Callao, a gold mine town.
“The BCV converts it, monetizes it, transforms it into a financial instrument and that translates into schools, housing, technology, roads, and food,” he said.
Another plan to defend mineral resources –he added– is the one implemented by the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), whose troops fight against mafias operating in the area and disable clandestine airstrips used to smuggle gold and coltan into Colombia and Aruba.
The most recent airstrip dismantled by the FANB was the “San Agustin”, located in the Campo Grande sector in Bolivar state, with a length of 550 meters.
Arreaza said that with a view to reinforce the fight against smuggling, FANB officers plan to install between this year and next, a system of radars to follow up the aircraft that enter and leave the Bolivar state.
“The mafias are desperate because we are buying the gold they took out and we are putting the radars, and when the radars are installed they will not be able to carry even one gram of gold without control, only the state will be able to export the gold,” he said.
He also stressed that mining production plans are made with the least possible environmental impact, and to do this, the venezuelan state proposes as a fundamental requirement that small miners who join the legal activity reduce the use of mercury and replace it, by cyanide, an element that is less polluting and can evaporate easily.
He mentioned that three joint ventures have been set up in the Mining Arch, two engaged in extracting coltan – Oro Azul and Parguaza – and another one dedicated to the production of gold with the Canadian firm Gold Reserve.
In all the alliances, the State holds a 55% stake to guarantee the investment of the profits in the social and industrial development of the country and to exercise its authority in the environmental control.
“All this is to distribute, with justice, all the wealth among the Venezuelans, for that is that we want to develop the mining industry,” he said.