Energy minister: Mining arc will be like Orinoco Oil Belt

Exploitation areas were demarcated in December

The minister of Petroleum and Mining claimed reserves of 85 million ounces (File photo)
Saturday February 02, 2013  12:00 AM
From now on, state-run oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) will be responsible for gold exploitation in Venezuela. According to Minister of Petroleum and Mining and Pdvsa President Rafael Ramirez, the mining arc will be similar to the Orinoco Oil Belt.

"There will be a mining arc, which will be like the Belt. Same as done with oil will be done with gold," the senior authority told private TV channel Venevisión during an interview.

In 2011, the Law that Reserves the State Gold Exploitation was passed. In this context, a partnership between Pdvsa and the Venezuelan Guayana Corporation (CVG) was aired to develop the activity. Recently, though, it was reported that the state-owned oil company, through the Venezuelan Mining Corporation, would carry out the operations.

The Corporation has been already allocated three blocs, containing reserves for 85 million ounces, the oil minister spelled out.

While as late as January 28, government authorities elaborated on the plans in the mining sector, back in December the exploitation areas had been delimited.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mining released in the Official Gazette No. 6094 of December 28, 2012, the resolution concerning the areas. The regulation broke down the recent announcement, according to which Pdvsa will hold the blocs of Guasipati-Callao, El Callao and South Sifontes Sur, covering an area of 35,778 hectares.

The resolution notes that Pdvsa will ensure the reasonable use of the resource and, through its subsidiary, may work on exploitation for 20 years. Further, "it may apply for the extension set forth in the available laws."

The minister recently said that the Corporation will have 45% out of the total gold areas; small-scale mining will be the target of 11%.

"There are standard areas of small-scale legal mining with which we will enter into joint ventures, and we have reserved 46% out of the available areas for new operations, where the involvement both of domestic and foreign business is envisaged."

The president of Pdvsa said again that an agreement with China was signed to outline the country mining map. He explained that this will be helpful to have all the reserves of gold and other minerals quantified and certified.

Ramírez remembered that the Council of Ministers had initialed the change in the windfall oil tax, raising the ceiling from USD 70 to USD 80. "Those additional dollars will enter the Central Bank."

Translated by Conchita Delgado
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