Guyana: Major gold mining companies ignite plans for underground mining

Guyana: Major gold mining companies ignite plans for underground mining

GGMC Commissioner, Newell Dennison

– Guyana still to set up necessary framework

Guyana is moving in a direction of underground mining at magnitudes never done in the country’s history. However, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) is still to put all the necessary measures in place to monitor this sort of mining that is considered “more hazardous than open pit mining.”

Recently, CANADA-based gold-mining company, Guyana Goldfields Inc. announced that it will be investing an initial sum of US$120M to develop an underground mine at its Aurora Gold Mine.  

Kaieteur News was also reliably informed that Troy Resources, another big player in the mining industry, is moving in the same direction.    

Meanwhile, a source close to GGMC said that the Commission is now hustling to set its self up to monitor such activities.

The Commission is suffering a deficit of the necessary competence, skills and especially experience to handle this.

The lack of experience is expected given the fact that Guyana has never had many underground mines and never before has there been an underground mine as deep as the ones being proposed by the two companies.

One source told Kaieteur News that “Omai went down 300 ft but this will be the biggest ever.”

The source continued, “There are very often health and safety risks because when you go underground it gets hotter because it’s an enclosed space and therefore the conditions of work are not as safe as an open area. Simply put, if you have to run there are limitations to where you can go, you can just run where the tunnels are, so an underground mine is always considered more hazardous than an open surface pit mine.

It calls for specialized training for both the workers and the inspectors. The majority of people at GGMC do not as yet have the needed type of training, that training is needed urgently. If adequate training is not done the safest thing would be for the GGMC to employ expats as the first set of mining inspectors.”

An underground mine

To pound the importance of being adequately prepared, the source said that inspectors will need to be trained in help and rescue techniques.

“I don’t mean to be morbid but if someone is trapped underground the rescue equipment and techniques are a big part of the monitoring and inspections of underground mining. Occasionally you hear about people being trapped underground in the US, China or Russia. In those countries, there is an elite team of inspectors who are trained to assist the mining company with retrieving the person who are trapped.”

There are currently a few underground mines but those are no deeper than 100 to 200 feet. Guyana Gold Fields is projecting to go way deeper.

GGMC Commissioner Newell Dennison recently said that the agency has had a “very strong” programme in ensuring that the existing mines “get whatever kind of expert guidance that it can get from us.”

Dennison said that in recognition of greater capacity for the large mines, the Commission has been focusing on technical aspects of mine safety.

He said that no less than six GGMC officers are currently studying mining engineering at the University of Guyana.

Dennison stressed, “We are increasing our cadre of mining engineers in anticipation of the underground mines. Capacity is being built again.”

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  • Ian Wishart  On 03/24/2018 at 7:56 am

    “…gold mining companies ignite plans”. Does this mean they’re burning them?

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