GUYANA: OMAI Contract still shrouded in secrecy as company boasts of finding more gold

An Omai pit in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni)

Apr 24, 2021 – Kaieteur News – Despite it being approximately six months since Omai Gold Mines Limited (OMGL) would have returned to Guyana, the nation is still in the dark about the contract signed with the Government.

The company had closed up shop in Guyana in 2005 after operating since 1992, leaving its Wenot Pit operations located in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) dormant.

Upon departure, its holdings passed from the Canadian company, Cambior Resources, to its parent company, IAMGOLD, and then made its way into the hands of Mahdia Gold Corporation.             

Now, a new company named, Avalon Private Investment Holdings, whose Guyanese subsidiary is Avalon Gold Exploration has picked up where they left off to find more gold. In fact, it is already showing good prospects for itself since Omai has already announced that it has found high-grade gold on separate occasions since drilling began. On December 16, 2020, the company announced a massive discovery of high-grade gold in the Wenot pit originating from unassayed core from a 2012 drilling programme that was preserved by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission. It had said, “Visible gold was encountered in hole 12WED11. Highest assay values include 29.19 g/t Au (grams of gold per tonne) over one meter from 460 to 461 meters. Hole 12WED13 intersected 4.5 meters of 2.93 g/t Au from 54 to 58.5 meters to the south of the Wenot Pit in sedimentary rocks, where there has been no previous exploration.”

Fast forward, on Wednesday April 22, 2021, Omai announced another high-grade gold find at two holes, “21ODD-001” and “21ODD-002” and also confirmed that there is high-grade mineralisation continuing below the pit, at least 100 metres down.

In light of the discovery, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mario Stifano, was quoted as saying, “We are pleased with our assay results from the first two holes we drilled at Omai, which complement(s) the assay results we announced in February. These results demonstrate that the grades and thicknesses of gold mineralisation continue at least 100 to 150 meters below the historically producing Wenot Pit, and remain open to depth and on strike. We look forward to updating our stakeholders with further results from our 5,000-meter drill program in the coming months.”

However, as the company boasts about its prospects, a fundamental question remains unanswered. What benefits will Guyana reap? Surely, that question cannot be answered given that the contract remains shrouded in secrecy, which brings attention to another issue.

Since Guyana is an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) member, under which it is encouraged to publicise all natural resources contracts and licences that provide the terms attached to the exploitation of oil, gas and minerals, it would be expected that such a requirement is willingly executed. However, since no contract has been seen to date, there is a clear violation of Guyana’s contractual obligations to the EITI.

It must also be noted that since its operations kick-started in 1992, OMGL’s operations led to severe environmental damage, which included a massive cyanide spill that saw over 400 million gallons of cyanide-laced material being emptied into the Omai River and into the Essequibo River, which is the country’s largest river. That spill was said to have left Guyana to face severe environmental, ecological, social, economic and political repercussions.

The company also benefitted from lucrative tax, fuel and vehicular concessions amounting to millions of Guyanese dollars and even as it extracted around 3.7 million ounces of gold during its succession, Guyana only raked in a mere five percent in royalties.

Given all that has occurred over the years with the nation’s natural resources and the fact that this company has yet again returned with no transparency being provided…. two more important questions linger. When will it end? When will Guyana finally see the Government being transparent and reap its fair share?

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  • Dennis Albert  On 04/26/2021 at 1:00 am

    The Canadian gold company robbing us of our gold profits.
    Alison Redford from the racist province of Alberta encouraging highway robbery of the Payara contract, while getting paid a lofty sum from the tax coffers.

    Are the Canadian politicians for or against Guyanese interests? Are they really liberal/socialist, or just neo-liberal capitalists?

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