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Crystallex addicts in total confusion as international media catches up on month-old PR on Las Cristinas

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VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: Much as I admire and respect Mineweb's Dorothy Kosich I have to admit that her latest reporting of the Las Cristinas saga -- published today -- builds on a formal press release issued several weeks ago by Toronto-based Crystallex International and does not immediately refer to any discussions at Venezuela's National Assembly Environment or Economic Development Committee meetings held yesterday (Wednesday), details of which are still to be made public.

It was in fact a month ago that Crystallex informed that the Venezuelan government had ordered the Environment Ministry (MinAmb) to reconsider issuance of the Las Cristinas project environmental permit. Since then, a series of open-ended discussions have been held between Crystallex and MinAmb officials to agree on a resolution of issues highlighted at the June 19 meeting, attended by MinAmb and Crystallex representatives under the auspices of AN deputy Angel Rodriguez.

Unfortunately mixing apples with oranges, Dorothy Kosich highlights general statements at the AN by quoting officials as saying that the Venezuelan State could take charge of the mining sector in the form of new State companies or joint venture partnerships with international companies. While very true, this particular apple or orange does not tally with the status of Crystallex International which holds an exclusive mine operating contract with the Venezuelan Guayana Corporation (CVG) -- the state-controlled heavy industry conglomerate which has 100% ownership of Las Cristinas and other gold mines in southeastern Venezuela.

Ms. Kosich should also note that the CVG does NOT belong to the neighboring country to Venezuela's east, Guyana. Perhaps creating confusion since the GuAyana region of Venezuela is totally sovereign to Venezuela and not otherwise related to the Essequibo territory or other of the Dutch or French Guianas along the southern Atlantic seaboard.

As regard Venezuela's new Mining Law, Ms. Kosich says correctly that it proposes that new joint ventures with international mining companies could be created with "a majority stake for the Venezuelan state." Yes, indeed, as witness the recent takeover of USA-Idaho-based Hecla's interests in El Callao by the Russian Agapov Group's Rusoro Mining in a 50/50 socialist joint venture with the Venezuelan State ... but it has absolutely nothing to do with the status of Crystallex' upcoming operations at Las Cristinas and elsewhere since the Venezuelan State is already in total ownership of the properties via the CVG.

Rodriguez appears also to have been (deliberately?) misquoted by a number of wire service reporters who have put a completely different spin on the subject of mining concessions. The fact is that previous governments had liberally handed out "concessions" as corrupt political favors but that these are now subject to review and revocation as Venezuela gets to grips with the situation and institutes a new order in the mining industry to prevent corrupted speculators from claiming spurious ownership rights to gold reserves when constitutionally all of Venezuela's subsoil assets are the undisputed property of the Venezuelan people and the government that acts in their name.

This places USA-Spokane-based Gold Reserve in a curious situation at the adjacent Las Brisas del Cuyuni site since it claims "ownership" of a concession yet is unable to claim ownership of the sub-soil reserves that are undoubtedly present at Las Brisas. How Gold Reserve's problem will be sorted out is anybody's guess but under the new regime it appears likely that they will be forced into the socialist mining model currently favored between the Venezuelan government and Rusoro. Meanwhile, Gold Reserve's final environmental permit is on hold in similar fashion to that of Crystallex'.

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For some reason, Mineweb's Dorothy Kosich then picks up on the subject of yesterday's editorial in VHeadline Venezuela quoting the International Crisis Group's report: Venezuela: Political Reform or Regime Demise? which suggests that President Chavez is facing "mounting difficulties at home and abroad" ... as thought that is something surprising or new in Venezuela's political-economic scenario.

The report also highlights the same concern over political sectarianism in the unwilling merging of Venezuela's leftist parties into the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) which the report claims brings concern about further concentration of power in the President's hands "and his foreign policy, including disputes with Columbia." Incidentally, the country name is spelled COLOMBIA!

What all this has to do with the brouhaha between Crystallex and the Environment Ministry is beyond me at this point in time, apart from the fact that the government administration -- as we have previously stated -- is populated by a farmyard full of headless chickens who don;t know what the hell they;re doing or how to do it, all the while running into hangman's nooses of their own making while trying to survive the mayhems through to a probable political defeat in nOvember's local and regional elections.

Whatever the results of the November elections it has NO bearing whatsoever on final resolution to Crystallex' current woes which, in reality, are no longer woes but part of a finalization process that will ultimately lead to central-government urged issuance of the relevant permit and a kick start to the Las Cristinas project with the full implementation of much-needed jobs and investments to the satisfaction of thousands of locally unemployed mine workers and an obvious start to work to clean up the deplorable state into which the local environment in southeastern Venezuela has descended through decades of total environmental nonchalance and neglect.

Roy S. Carson


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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Roy S. Carson is veteran foreign correspondent (45+ years in the business) currently editor & publisher of VHeadline Venezuela reporting on news & views from and about Venezuela in South America -- available for interviews -- call Houston (more...)

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