Guyana Goldfields/ Aurora Gold Mines (AGM) intends to invest US$120 million in conducting underground gold mining for the first time in Guyana’s history, company officials announced Sunday.
AGM’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Scott Caldwell said “we want to become the premier underground gold miner in Guyana and South America” in another four years.
In addition to four studies, valued at US$1 million each, he said tests on the hydrology, soil and rock mechanics, have shown that there is no seepage from the Cuyuni River to the area where underground mining would be conducted.
“Today, we don’t see any seepage from the river and it’s all coming from below and we are just not doing this and popping up. What it’s coming from are old exploration holes; they were drilled and they weren’t capped and weren’t filled and so water is coming from the old exploration holes,” he said. He virtually ruled out seepage from the river into the underground pits because the rock structure is very sturdy.
A feasibility study on underground mining, he said, was nearing completion and would be available by the end of the month. Currently, one of the pits is minus 200 meters and going another 50 meters would impact on the nearby Cuyuni River. “Then the pit walls get to the point where they start to reach the river and obviously we can’t mine the river or move the Cuyuni River out. We will not do that,” he said.
AGM last year produced 160,000 ounces of gold at a gross value of almost US$200 million.
The company intends to employ 150 permanent workers for its underground operations to extract more than two million ounces of gold. Cauldwell said the underground mine operations would result in “less surface disturbance” of the environment.
Dating back to 2012, AGM had known that it would have engaged in underground gold mining, and now Cauldwell said would be the best time to extract the higher quality gold at a cheaper price. “Gold prices are better and we see the opportunity to do so,” he said.
The company is currently exploring several other sites, with the aim of finding more reserves.
The CEO said workers earmarked for the project would be trained carefully over a period of time as part of safety requirements.