There are close to 30 Canadian mining companies operating in Guyana representing almost 90 per cent of foreign investment in the sector.
At a Guyana Day mining forum last Sunday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, David Devine, said his office is partnering with these companies – some of whom are expanding their international operations – on a number of fronts to enhance their potential for success.
Devine, together with Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud, and senior Guyana Geology & Mines Commission officials were in Toronto last weekend for the international convention and trade show of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC).
“The important element for the companies is the matter of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and, as we all realize, a mining company’s success does not only rely on finance and expertise in geology,” said Devine. “Companies which understand CSR principles realize that they are partners with communities which surround them…It is a long-term commitment which must be developed on a solid foundation. It just makes good corporate sense to be that socially responsible.”
Devine said the High Commission is holding workshops later this month with mining companies and representatives from the rural communities in which they operate to present a mining tool kit publication that includes critical educational information pertaining to, among other things, the different life cycles of a mine and regulations and laws which are applicable in the mining field specific to Guyana.
In addition, the High Commission is collaborating with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Canadian Community Colleges and the Guyana government to assist in the development of accredited geo-technology and vocational skills programs for Guyanese interested in enhancing their education and pursuing careers in the mining sector.
“This is an essential element in providing for a highly skilled workforce for a prosperous Guyana,” said Devine who is also this country’s ambassador to Suriname and Canada’s CARICOM representative. “This will permit the development of skills for the industry and provide much needed higher paying jobs. There is a serious skills shortage in Guyana in the geo-technical field, as there is in many places in the Caribbean and all over the world.”
Devine, who served in Tokyo as counsellor and senior trade commissioner for four years prior to being assigned to Guyana last summer, said his office is working with partners to identify the feasibility and requirements necessary to conduct a mineral mapping study of Guyana, and also with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Guyana government to review existing regulatory frameworks and organizational structures to ensure an effective and transparent approach in the mineral sector.
“All of these components are critical if we are going to engage in a responsible, profitable, long-term and sustainable relationship,” said Devine, a graduate of Concordia University’s Executive MBA program. “If one of these elements is missing, it will reduce the ability of all of us to expand business interests and provide the expected returns to the people of Guyana and the Canadian mining industry. We will do whatever we can to make progress in all of these areas over the next year and with the help of the government, the people of Guyana and the Canadian mining community, I am confident that we will make significant progress.”
Persaud, accompanied by Guyana’s Geology & Mines commissioner, Karen Livan, and deputy commissioner, Rickford Vieira, said an international consortium has shown an interest in establishing a gold refinery in Guyana.
The Guyana Gold Board ships the bulk of the country’s gold to the Royal Canadian Mint for refinement. Last year, 363,083 metric ounces of gold were declared which represents a 13.46 per cent increase over the 320,000 metric ounces that was projected for the year.
Guyana Goldfields, Sandspring Resources, First Bauxite and Reunion Manganese, which have mineral agreements in Guyana, made presentations at the forum.
Guyana, attending the PDAC convention for the first time, was among 120 countries represented at the annual four-day event.
BY RON FANFAIR