Guyana Goldfields, Inc—Laying the Groundwork for Future Jobs and Government Revenues in Guyana
Guyana Goldfields, a junior mining company, has been working with IFC to explore and develop a gold mine in a remote jungle location on the Cuyuni River 176 miles from the capital of Georgetown. The company, active in Guyana since the mid-1990s, holds the mineral rights to two properties: Aurora and Peters. While gold reserves have been identified at both sites, the company’s current activities are focused on the Aurora property.
The Guyana Goldfields-IFC partnership follows efforts by the government to implement structural reforms in order to build a fully functioning market economy. It also began in the wake of the shuttering of a large gold mine at the end of 2005, leading to jobs losses and a significant drop in revenues to the government.
To demonstrate its commitment to Guyana Goldfields, IFC purchased an initial equity stake in the company of $4.7 million. A second equity investment of $4.15 million followed in June 2009.
The aims of the partnership include:
· Preserving Biodiversity—Although the company’s Aurora property is on the site of a previous mine, the land sits deep in the rainforest. With help from IFC, Guyana Goldfields partnered with World Wildlife Fund on a preliminary biodiversity assessment. The company also retained outside consultants to conduct a comprehensive environmental impact assessment.
· Clean Energy—To reduce the project’s carbon footprint and save money on the cost of transporting diesel fuel to such a remote location, IFC and Guyana Goldfields are working together to explore the feasibility of building a hydroelectric dam on the Cuyuni River to supply power to the future mine. IFC has provided a grant of $270,500 to fund 50 percent of the cost of the feasibility study for the hydropower project.
· Health Services—At the request of Guyana Goldfields, IFC conducted an assessment of health risks and has trained workers at the company’s site and artisanal miners working at sites in the surrounding area on water quality and disease prevention.
· Implementing Best Practices—With guidance from IFC, Guyana Goldfields has put in place best practices in the environmental and safety arenas, including processes for the protection of water resources and soils, and procedures for solid and hazardous waste management and the use and storage of hazardous materials.
The Guyana-Goldfields-IFC partnership aims to implement international standards for sustainable mining in a remote region where artisanal mining practices to date have had a significant adverse impact on the environment. The exploration phase successfully completed, the company is now conducting an engineering study and other feasibility work. Once operational, the mine will be an important source of jobs and revenues in Guyana.