President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Guyana Goldfields Inc, Scott Caldwell also told a ceremony for the re-launch of the Guyana Mining Toolkit that should there be an emergency at the tailings pond the operations would be shut down.
“The cyanide is destroyed before we ever discharge into the dam or into the tails facility so there is no risk of a cyanide spill. Everything is double-lined and the plants are industry-standards today and things have changed a lot in the last twenty years on tailings dam construction as well as how you operate,” he said.
Caldwell said if one of the tailings processing facilities is down for maintenance or any other reason, “the entire plant is down.” “We can’t run it, we won’t run it. That’s by permit and that’s the way we will operate so there isn’t a cyanide risk at this plant,” he said.
The CEO further explained that the mine is 20 to 30 meters above river level and mining methods are not connected to the river. He said levees have been built in case of a flood.
Caldwell’s assurances came against the background of the spill of more than 325 million gallons of cyanide-tainted waste into the Essequibo River from the Omai Gold Mines. The river and creeks- the only sources of water for washing, bathing and drinking by communities- had been polluted for days. Many dead fishes had also floated up as a result of the biggest environmental disaster to have hit this country.
Guyana Goldfields Inc. has so far invested US$250 million in building the mine that has an original life of 17 years with good prospects of extension by another 18 years.
He said Guyanese would make up the bulk of the workforce in mining and maintenance, while a small number would be expatriates who would be operating sophisticated computerized systems for ore processing right through to the production of gold bars.
The Guyana Mining Toolkit is expected to be a guide for miners, residents and critics alike.
Minister of Natural Resources, Robert Persaud hoped that the toolkit would help to avoid and resolve conflicts especially between Amerindian residents and miners and authorities.