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Aurora Gold Mines defends plane purchase; assures Guyanese are being hired

The Twin Otter that is owned by Aurora Gold Mines.

Aurora Gold Mines (AGM) on Monday defended the acquisition of its own aircraft to shuttle between the coast and its mines site at Cuyuni, in the face of ongoing criticisms about the fact that the Twin Otter plane still bears a Canadian registration.

The civil aviation registration marking on the plane is  C-GGIR

AGM said it bought the plane in January, 2016 and continues to retain ownership. However, the gold mining company later leased the plane to Canadian Flyers World Aviation Services from March 6, 2017.

The company explained that the registration to 2225692 Ontario Inc./Canadian Flyers World Aviation Services is standard practice in the industry especially when a company signs an “exclusive use contract” which dedicates the AGM plane to its own exclusive use.

“In that Agreement Canadian Flyers, based on their extensive and current experience with this type of aircraft was given the responsibility for the management and operation of the aircraft. In the exercising of this responsibility they supervised the refurbishment of the aircraft and the movement of it across international borders,” Guyana Goldfields-Aurora Gold Project’s Corporate Affairs Manager, John Timmons said in a statement.

On the issue of whether Guyanese pilots and other personnel have been sidelined by the company, with the company’s acquisition of its own aircraft, the company said three local pilots were hired and two local pilots are in the final stages of their re-certification process to enable them to be fully certified Twin Otter pilots “and will continue to advance their aviation career with AGM.”

“Additional efforts were undertaken to assist local students with maintenance training and one AGM employee is in advanced stages to complete his maintenance certification to international standards,” Timmons added.

The company denied reports in sections of the media that AGM has not been using local planes since it acquired its Twin Otter plane.  “AGM continues to require local charters operating out of the Eugene Correia’ airport. Our records indicate that from January 1st 2018 to May 31st 2018,  local carriers hired by AGM  made 131 trips  to transport personnel and goods into its  Aurora Project,” the company said.

A local aviator has told Demerara Waves Online News that perhaps the time has come for the local content provisions of the Aurora Gold Mines/ Guyana Goldfields to be examined.

Preferring to opt for anonymity, the source argued that the company could have expressed an interest in having more flights with specific planes  which would have allowed domestic carriers to seek loans to purchase those aircraft on the basis of a guaranteed market.