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Sandspring Project

Continued from Page 12 feasibility study issued in January, Guyana Goldfields will need $205 million to achieve commercial production of 3.29 million ounces of gold over a 17-year period, at an operating cash cost of $527 per ounce. The study projects average annual gold production over the life of its Aurora mine at 194,000 ounces, rising to 231,000 ounces a year for the first 10 years and peaking in 2020 at 349,000 ounces. If all goes according to plan, Guyana Goldfields should begin commercial production in early 2015. David Devine, Canada’s high commissioner in Georgetown, said the Ottawa government has sent senior geologists to help the Guyana Geology & Mines Commission review its mineral data collection program. Likewise, Canadian educational institutions offer training courses in everything from environmental safety to advanced mining techniques. “We’re also working with the Guyanese government and the private sector to make sure they are as open, transparent and effective as possible,” Devine told us. “We have a small embassy with only one commercial officer here, so with our limited resources, we try to focus on where we have the best competitive advantage. And our latest estimates are that Canadian companies are involved in 10,000 mining operations around the world.” Gold is not all that glitters in Guyana, however. Guyana also has the world’s seventh-largest reserves of bauxite. Its estimated 850 million tons of reserves are outranked only by Guinea, Australia, Brazil, Vietnam, Jamaica and India. Just as Canadians are supporting much of Guyana’s gold industry, the bauxite industry in Guyana is being run by Chinese and Russian investors. The Bauxite Company of Guyana, founded in 2004, is 90 percent owned by Moscow-based RUSAL — the world’s largest aluminum producer — and 10 percent by the Guyanese government. During the first 11 months of 2012, it produced 1.41 million tons of bauxite, 5.9 percent more than that produced for all of 2011. Meanwhile, China’s Bosai Minerals Group, which

has an extraction capacity of 1.2 million tons of bauxite ore per year, processed about 618,500 tons between January and November 2012, or 26 percent more than for the whole of 2011. The company said it intends to spend $100 million on an expansion program this year. A third company, Toronto-based First Bauxite Corp., is currently prospecting for refractory-grade bauxite. Statistics on diamond production are much more elusive. Persaud said his government is working hard to prevent diamonds from being taken across the border with Venezuela by smugglers trying to flout the Kimberley Process. “We’ve always been conscious that there can be cross-border movement,” he told a Reuters reporter last year, adding that Guyana’s compliance with the Kimberley Process is under “constant review.” Guyana is also beginning to export manganese — an alloy used in the manufacture of stainless steel—

for the first time in nearly 50 years. Reunion Gold Corp., based in Longueuil, Quebec, has acquired rights to prospect on 185 square kilometers at Matthew’s Ridge in northwestern Guyana, near the country’s border with Venezuela. “Since obtaining the prospecting licenses for Matthew’s Ridge in late 2010, our team has embarked on an extensive drilling campaign to establish an initial resource estimate and move Matthew’s Ridge towards development,” said Reunion’s executive chairman, David Fennell, whose company aims to extract at least 20 million tons of manganese for export to major markets. But that will require an investment of at least $300 million before production can begin. “We believe the Matthew’s Ridge project has the potential to become a leading producer of manganese in the Americas,” he said. “While this resource is very substantial, many undrilled targets remain available for additional resource growth.”

Diaspora Continued from Page 9

Photo: Beverly Richardson

A kite design of the Guyanese Diaspora celebrates Easter at Centennial Park at an event organized by the Embassy of Guyana.

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minister said. Neighboring Brazil, with the world’s sixth-largest economy, could run out of energy by 2020, “so they’re looking at countries around them they can partner with in order to build hydroelectric plants. Brazil wants electricity, and we want the road from Lethem to Georgetown paved and we want a port. But we cannot borrow money to build these things, or we’ll end up with an indebtedness that might not be sustainable.” In order to attract that kind of investment, there must be political stability, said Rodrigues-Birkett — expressing confidence that Guyana, with the help of its many citizens overseas, will be able to overcome whatever challenges crop up. “We have to move Guyana to a different place, and we’ve begun that process. I believe no country can be successful without education and

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without infrastructure,” she said. “How do we develop a country of 83,000 square miles? I don’t think we can do it with 750,000 people living on 9 percent of the land. But we have to start somewhere.” Guyanese Finance Minister Ashni Singh, interviewed in Georgetown, said the Diaspora means more than just the $420 million in remittances sent back home annually. “Our biggest export market for locally produced goods is New York, where many Guyanese live,” he pointed out. “In addition, we increasingly recognize that the Diaspora has an important role to play in representing our interests overseas.” Singh added: “There was a time when outward migration was viewed as a negative thing. Now, one takes a slightly more enlightened view. The reality is that people will move in and out of countries. Today, more than ever, we recognize the vast value of the Diaspora — as something of value, rather than something we have lost.”

April • May 2013


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