The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government has begun engagements with the Russian Aluminum company (RUSAL) to recommence operations along the Berbice River in Guyana.
RUSAL’s Country Representative Vladimir Permakov and the company’s General Manager on Monday met with Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn, Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat, Permanent Secretary at the Natural Resources Ministry, Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).
RUSAL owns 90% of the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) while the other 10% belongs to the Government.
According to Minister Bharrat, the meeting was held “to facilitate hearing from RUSAL what were the critical issues encountered, which culminated in their inability to continue…the mining of bauxite at Aroaima.”
The Russian company shared a rocky relationship with the previous APNU+AFC Government and the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU) leading to the shutdown of operations on February 3 and laying off of 326 workers from its Aroaima mine site.
At the meeting held at the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Annex, RUSAL provided a synopsis of their experiences including the labour issues experienced during 2019 and the blocking of the Berbice River by bauxite workers.
“They related their view that there are presently several technical matters which have to be addressed in the first instance, such as the restoration of the mine for safe mining after it became flooded,” the Natural Resources Minister said.
The News Room understands that RUSAL also raised concerns with the industrial relations environment under which it closed its operations noting that same needs mending for significant further investment.
He added that economic concerns were also mentioned, as the company claims that the operating cost for extracting Guyana’s bauxite was not as competitive on the world market.
There is also potential added costs of remedial work in the mine.
RUSAL was asked to prepare a report which would set out how the company could return to viability.
A Joint Technical Committee is expected to meet in three weeks to examine the future of the bauxite operations by RUSAL.
The Minister of Natural Resources also requested a brief updating him on the situation which developed late 2019 and continued into 2020 leading to RUSAL’s indication that it is seeking new investors for its 90% stake in BCGI.