Illegal mining in Upper Demerara RiverSeveral persons, including nine Brazilians, implicated in alleged illegal mining activity in the Upper Demerara River in Linden were questioned and released by Police in Linden.The dredge which was spotted in the Upper Demerara RiverAbout 12 persons were detained on Saturday after suspicion arose that they were conducting unauthorised activities. Acting on suspicion, Municipal Councillor Lennox Gasper along with Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) Orrin Gordon ventured to the area at Watooka, Mackenzie and confronted the individuals prior to summoning Regional Chairman Renis Morian, Deputy Mayor Wainewright Bethune and Police to the area.An investigation has since been launched by the Police. Councillor Gasper has indicated that the individuals said they had received permission to conduct mining further up the river. However, enquiries disclosed that the permission did not come from the office of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC). It was noted, however, that the group was in possession of written permission which was granted by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in 2014. The permit which was seen by this publication gave permission for small scale mining for gold and precious stones. It is unclear whether the document was updated or renewed since 2014. However, those implicated, according to sources, were also allegedly operating under the pretense of transporting parts of a dredge to dredge the Berbice River at Kwakwani to assist in flood relief efforts. But the Regional Chairman confirmed that the group was not part of the flood relief efforts. Further investigation disclosed that some of the individuals were not in possession of work permits, and some had passports which were near expiry.The Regional Chairman told this publication on Monday that he, along with some Councillors and representatives of the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LM&TC) met with those involved on Monday and would have discussed the “discrepancies” associated with the situation. He promised to provide a full update on Tuesday.According to Councillor Gasper, who was part of the meeting, both the RDC and LM&TC remain resolute that the activity be halted because of health concerns.Meanwhile, a source close to the investigation told this publication that the investigation disclosed that three of the Brazilians were not in possession of work permits but claimed that their documentation was processing at the time, by the company to which they are attached. This, the source noted, has been verified by Police after the nationals were detained. They were later released, given that all were in possession of valid passports, and documentation for work permits of the three Brazilian nationals were being processed.The source added that they were sent away until they receive permission to conduct dredging, and were instructed to have the dredge removed. Regional officials were concerned that any dredging activities at the particular section of the river could lead to erosion.Councillor Gasper has also questioned the lack of an assessment report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as is necessary for such activities. Officials have also indicated that neither the RDC nor LM&TC, the two main organs of governance in the Region, had been informed of the activities which were being conducted in the river.