The Guyana Manganese Incorporated (GMI), a Bosai Mineral Group company, has told Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton that it is on track to begin extracting the mineral by April/May 2021.
Hamilton, along with a team from the Ministry of Labour, visited the Matthews Ridge, Region One, mine site where the company is currently operating with a predominately local workforce as it prepares for its 2021 start-up date.
Hamilton was told that well over 100 Guyanese are currently employed with over 400 to be employed when full operations begin next year.
During the visit to the facility, the Minister was briefed on the setting up of plant factories, mills, and the development of the mines for the operation which will see the extraction of manganese ore in Mathews Ridge and then the transporting of the manganese to Port Kaituma, where a wharf will be built to accommodate the ships looking to take the manganese overseas.
Hamilton said while this is impressive and the government welcomes foreign investment, management should be cognisant of ensuring that the rights of workers are respected.
High on the Minister’s agenda is equal pay for equal work, with Hamilton impressing on the Chinese management the need for locals to be paid equally as expatriates doing the same job.
“The same salaries must be paid whether it be expatriates or Guyanese doing the same job. I can understand as you said in your presentation that there are technical skills that we don’t have, but I’m saying that during the life you must train our people to get there, because at the end of the day, we want our people to be skilled and equipped and it makes good business sense if you have to limit the number of people you have to bring from overseas,” Hamilton implored.
The minister also said that employees must be paid their overtime in accordance with the law and all lawful taxation measures should be followed.
He urged the company to also facilittate workers in setting up a workers’ representative bodies or unions.
“I believe you have a duty and responsibility to facilitate workers to have a representative organisation, they might not want to join a union but you must have on your site some set of persons who can represent the workers and engage you and it is better for you… I am a Guyanese and I know that all smiles are not smiles with Guyanese,” he added.
Hamilton said GMI currently has some outstanding issues with permits and licenses to be granted by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
He was assured that these issues will be sorted in time for the 2021 start update.
It was previously announced that GMI had purchased four prospecting licenses that cover an area of 45,729 acres, exploration results, mineral agreement, certain properties, and infrastructure from RMI of Canada in November 2016.
The total manganese resource in Matthew’s Ridge is some 26M tonnes.
To produce the manganese concentrate, the company will have to mine some 2M tonnes per year which will see the life of the operation lasting some 12-13 years.