Toronto, Canada-based Aroura Gold Mines which owns one of the Caribbean Community’s largest open pit mines has started the process of terminating close to 100 staffers, most of them drillers, geologists and exploration staff in the wake of a major shake up of its top management at its North American headquarters.
Country Manager Violet Smith said this week that the dismissals take effect from the beginning of September and comes amid a major reorganization of Guyana Goldfields as the plan is now to abandon several gold-bearing sites that were being explored some distance from its main mine. The focus now would be more on potential gold-bearing ore in areas immediately next to its Aroura Mine in Guyana’s western Cuyuni Region near Venezuela.
In July, the board of directors terminated company founder Patrick Sheridan, Jnr., as its executive chairman and switched him to an ordinary member of the board. Smith said Sheridan had been enthusiastic about exploration prospects at several sites away from Aroura but management said that it will not only realign its dual reporting structure and streamline communications but will also basically confine exploration to near mine sites. The dismissals represent just under a tenth of its workforce. Actual gold mining began in 2015.
Only Guyana and Suriname produce and mine large scale gold in the group of 15 nations, though it is believed that Trinidad, Jamaica and Belize might have commercial deposits as well.
The company plans to produce up to 185,000 troy ounces of gold this year. The dismissals and reorganization would not affect plans for the company to transition from open pit to underground mining in Guyana in the coming years as the subterranean ore is also at the Aroura Mine site Smith said.
Gold is the nation’s leading foreign exchange earner but is expected to be surpassed by oil and gas as early as late next year when offshore oil production begins in earnest in the wake of a massive 2015 discovery by an international consortium led by ExxonMobil.
Perth, Australia-based Troy Resources is the other major open pit miner in the country and along with the local brigade of small and medium scale operators produce up to 800,000 ounces of gold annually. Authorities say 15,000 ounces are smuggled overseas each week, a development they are trying to stem.