More than two months after reportedly halting its stripping operations at its Kurubuka mines, Region 10, Russian-controlled Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI) has restarted.
According to workers, management cancelled plans a few days ago to park trucks and other equipment in what appeared to be an initial attempt to halt operations.
It would indicate that BCGI is not moving soon from Guyana.
BCGI which is majority owned by Rusal, the second largest bauxite company in the world, has been threatening to leave in face of a bitter pay dispute and a clamping down on the bauxite operations.
Once the biggest economic activity in the region, the operations at the Aroaima and Berbice River area had been shuttered before the then Government ran it for a short while and then struck a deal with Rusal in the mid-2000s.
According to workers yesterday, since September, with uncertainty growing over the future of Rusal’s presence in Guyana, there have been moves by the company to take the equipment from the worksite.
A number of the 100-plus tonne trucks that BCGI had imported under duty free waivers arrangements, were taken to the Canje area, Berbice, where officials of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), on receiving word of the development, ordered them not to be removed.
Since September, Rusal had eased down stripping operations and was concentrating on moving stockpiles.
On Wednesday evening, staffers were expected to be clean and park equipment in what was supposed to be the last. However, they were informed by management that a decision has been taken by senior management to restart stripping in another area at Kurubuka.
“We as staffers are like yo-yo. We are not hearing anything definite. We know that Rusal’s people came down recently and met Minister (of Social Protection) Amna Ally and informed her that they can’t pay an increase that the workers asking for. We have not heard much and workers of Rusal wants to know.”
BCGI/Rusal is facing a backlash for its operations here.
Since coming here in the mid-2000s, it has been telling the Government of Guyana that it has not been making a profit.
As such, Guyana has not received any dividends for the 10 percent stake it owns in BCGI.
With regard to concessions, Guyana had bent over backwards.
BCGI received billions of dollars in duty free concession on fuel, vehicles and equipment as well as tax breaks.
The company has been accused of not being truthful with declarations of its production and even selling its power produced by fuel granted under duty free concession to residents and businesses.
The company has also been accused of selling its fuel to third parties, a big no-no.
This week, government announced that it has put together a team of ministers and other mining officials to review and report to Cabinet on the operations of mining companies in Guyana.
BCGI/Rusal would be one of them.
The bauxite company has over 300 workers from Region 10, Berbice and other areas.
The entity is locked in a dispute with the workers’ union for a pay increase.
The matter is heading for arbitration.
Earlier this year, workers camped out for one month at Aroaima, over conditions and better pay.
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