… Minister awaiting GGMC reportA mining concessionaire has come forward with claims that Junior Natural Resources Minister Simona Broomes has been using her position in the Ministry to intervene in matters involving her close associates in a biased manner but the Minister has lashed back saying that the allegations are erroneous, distasteful and geared towards divisive and unproductive outcomes.Clarence Rodrigues, a 53-year-old miner and concessionaire, has levelled allegations after the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), reportedly acting on orders, seized six of his mining claims at Ten Mile, Port Kaituma, Region One (Barima-Waini) in light of a claim dispute involving Rodrigues and one of the Minister’s alleged associates.Speaking on Rodrigues’ behalf, his Attorney, Malek Cave, told this publication that the six claims were issued in the name of John and Clarence Rodrigues, who are Amerindians, from Port Kaituma in 1982.He further explained that John Rodrigues died in 2000, and since then, Clarence Rodrigues has been handling the affairs of the claims, and has been prompt with all payments. According to the attorney, Rodrigues received the seize order from the GGMC “acting on the advice of Junior Minister of Natural Resources” on February 25, and has since been unable to operate on his claims.He further explained that since that day, he has approached mining officials on Rodrigues’ behalf to ascertain the grounds on which his mining claims were seized; however, all of his attempts have been futile. “Since the 25th of February, I have tried every senior functionary at the GGMC and I am yet to get an answer from them in regards to moving forward,” he stated, adding that he approached the Commissioner of the GGMC, Newell Dennison on the issue.Cave expounded on the claims dispute, telling Guyana Times that an individual by the name of Van De Cruize was issued concessions in the vicinity of Rodrigues’ claims, and one of the blocks that was issued to Van De Cruize falls on Rodrigues’ mining claims.According to the lawyer, Minister Broomes is a close associate of the said Van De Cruize, and as such, used her position in the Ministry to act in a biased manner towards Rodrigues.Rodrigues expressed his frustration with the situation, saying that he has been left in limbo. He related that earlier this year, his left leg had to be amputated due to diabetes and he has no other means of earning income. He said he has eight young children to maintain, and as such, life has been very difficult for him and his family.Commenting on Cave’s allegations of her association with parties to the conflict, Minister Broomes in a released statement said that “with the Rodrigues and Van De Cruize matter, first of all I want to make it clear that I have never seen Van De Cruize or Rodrigues ever before when they came here one day at an Open Day. The matter of Van De Cruize was referred to me by Minister Trotman”. She further noted that, “Cease work orders are not placed by a Minister or lifted by a Minister but is based on the Act. The Commissioner of GGMC is the only person who could rescind a cease work order so it has nothing to do with the Minister”.The Minister further outlined that she views this attack as a deliberate attempt to implicate her and noted that, “this matter is out there and I think it is deliberate. I have not yet received a report on the conclusion of the matter. In fact, Mr Van De Cruize keeps running, and crying every day that the GGMC dragging their feet and is taking a long time. But I have to wait on GGMC to do their work and then show me a report of the outcome.”Earlier this year, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association issued a call for the Minister to be reassigned to another Ministry, since she has several mining concessions, which the Minister had said are now under the control of her children, and that her presence in the Ministry is a clear conflict of interest and poses a threat to impartiality.