Sep 22, 2021 News
Kaieteur News in a recent bid to obtain information on operations being carried out at Aurora Gold Mines (AGM) by Chinese gold company, Zijin Mining Group, was told that some of the details it is seeking are confidential.
This media entity tried to obtain details on the company’s general operations, including its expenditure and production, since it had taken over the mine from the previous Canadian owners. The Chinese company had purchased AGM from the Canadians in August 2020 for a total US$238M.
To obtain the details on Zijin’s current operations, Kaieteur News had requested an interview with the company’s General Manager (GM), Victor Wu, through a spokesperson.
The spokesperson (name provided) had responded that the interview can be facilitated but “it depends on the topic of discussion”.
He then asked for this publication to send the topics it would like to discuss with the GM, before the interview is granted.
Kaieteur News complied, and sent the spokesperson its questions for the GM.
Upon receiving them, the spokesperson responded, “But some are confidential information”.
He then related that he is not sure if the GM will be able to divulge such information.
Nevertheless, the spokesperson said he will send through the questions to get the GM’s response.
A few days later, the spokesperson contacted Kaieteur News to convey that the GM has declined the interview.
His exact words were, “I am sorry to advise that our GM cannot take the interview at this stage. If the opportunity comes in the future, I will let you know. Best Regards.”
Among the information, this entity sought were the gold production targets of the company, and some details on how much gold it had produced for the year so far.
With regard to the company’s expenditure during its ongoing operations, Kaieteur News had asked the GM if he could disclose if the company buys fuel locally, or whether it is imported directly. This media house also sought details for other materials and goods the Zijin Group buys to maintain its local mining operations.
Prior to requesting this interview, Kaieteur News had visited AGM located in the Region Seven locale to get a firsthand look of the operations.
It was granted a brief tour by representatives of the company, but when Kaieteur News tried to obtain information on the company’s gold production and targets, company officials were reluctant to disclose such details.
Some of them had even said that they can’t remember what their company’s gold production targets are, because it changes frequently.
They did, however, say that the company sets a monthly and a yearly target. The representatives had also revealed that the company buys its food supplies from Georgetown, but are not aware of who the suppliers are.
They detailed that the company only uses diesel to fuel its plants and equipment, but could not say if it is bought locally or imported. The representatives were also unable to say how much fuel Zijin consumes daily for its operations. It was the same response given for other materials, such as explosives that are needed for its operations.
Asked why they were unable to reveal these details, they responded that they are not from the department that keeps track of the company’s production and expenditure records.
Kaieteur News in recent times has exposed the luxurious deal the Chinese gold company is benefiting from.
That deal, too, was secret and confidential for a while, but Kaieteur News was also able to obtain the contract the company has with Guyana.
Under the contract, Zijin enjoys paying a partial 10 percent excise duty for the import of petroleum products, while local miners plying the trade are subjected to the standard rate of 50 percent.
Guyanese are subjected to a standard excise rate of 50 percent—a rate that was last revised downwards to 35 percent on February 18, in order to cushion against higher fuel prices on the world market, to be reverted again when prices rebound. As such, petroleum products imported by Guyanese attract a rate three and a half times higher than their foreign counterparts.
The deals also allow Zijin to import into the country, or purchase domestically, free of import duties, Value Added Tax, and any other direct or indirect taxes on all equipment, supplies and materials for the project.
Additionally, the company is granted the privilege to determine how much royalties it pays Guyana on the sale of its gold.
Should Zijin sell its gold for US$1,000 per ounce or less, then Guyana gets five percent in royalty. If the company finds a buyer at more than US$1,000 per ounce, then Guyana will receive eight percent royalty from the sales.
Apart from these “luxury” provisions, Zijin is only paying US$5 or GYD$1,000 rental for every acre of land it has in its claim per year. The Chinese currently owns a concession that spans a total of 12KM squared or 3000 acres, which according to initial studies has reserves of 3.48 million ounces of gold.
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