By Tusika Martin
With an imminent US$300M investment by the Guyana Goldfields Inc. in Aurora, Cuyuni, the environmental assessment impact begun on Wednesday with the first of several public consultations at Bartica.
The mining company is currently conducting two simultaneous assessments at its newly discovered 5.4 million ounces of gold site.
Speaking with Kaieteur News yesterday, President of the Company, Claude Lemasson, said that the initial investment is very significant ranging from between US$150M and US$180M.
“That is for the first part of the project, which is up until the start of production. After we start producing we will go into phase two of development, which is the underground mining and that will require another US$150M.”
The current life of the mine discovered is about 12 years but according to Lemasson, this can be extended to about 15 years.
Speaking about the project, the President of the company said that the Aurora site which is being called the Aurora Gold Project is about 15 square miles.
“The process that we are going through is a studies and permitting process. Part of the studies that we are currently conducting is the feasibility study, which is being done by A. Mac Engineering of Toronto, Canada. We are doing the environmental and social impact assessment work for the project.”
As part of this process, the engineering consultants are working with the Environmental Protection Agency in conducting public consultations.
A simultaneous feasibility study is being undertaken for the hydropower components of the project.
The proposed hydropower facility will be located in the left branch of the Cuyuni River about 8km upstream of the proposed mine site.
The hydropower facility will consist of an earth fill dam, a spillway, bottoms outlets for the reservoir and the power station.
“All of these studies as permitting processes are ongoing for 2009 and should all be completed by the first quarter of 2010.”
The hydroelectric powerhouse building will contain the equipment and the ancillary systems required to generate electricity.
The project, he said, is going to be a large scale operation with a combination of open pit and underground mining with milling facilities on site as well as all the supporting facilities.
A road will be built to connect the mine site, which is located on the edge of the Cuyuni River, to existing forestry road.
It is proposed that a large airstrip will be built on site to transport personnel by air along with a port facility at Buck Hall.
This wharf will be constructed for the management of cargo for the operation.
“After the studies are completed and the project gets permitted, by early 2010 we fully expect to go into development infrastructure period for about two years.”
During that period a total of about 600 persons comprising of Guyanese and foreign expertise will be employed.
“Once we start production in 2012, at that time we will have about 500 employees.”
He noted that the foreign expertise will be conducting a number of training programmes with the local staff.
Addressing the issue of pollution and environmental concerns, Lemasson said that at the forefront of what is important to Guyana Goldfields are the health, safety and environment in the communities in which it operates.
The environmental section will consist of a series of ponds where excess effluent from tailings pond will be treated.
The base of these ponds will be sited in low permeability soils determined from the results of a soil investigation.
Five pumps will be deployed in this section to enhance the degradation of cyanide in the tailings water by spraying the effluent into the air.
Three pumps will be utilized on a full time basis for these exercises.
The additional two pumps will be used to provide back up services.
As system of spray lines and nozzles will be poured by the pumps to provide optimum aeration of effluent from the leaching sections.
“We are hoping to develop the mining in a sustainable manner…with a properly designed facility…it is important for us to provide very high level control at both of the design level and the construction level,” the President of the mining company stated.
During the environmental impact assessment, the public can review the project, and make comments and suggestions.
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