Mr. Goll addresses the media at EPA head office in SinkorA crisis management team (CMT) set up by the government to investigate the recent chemical spill incident that affected 34 persons at the MNG Gold Mines in Kokoya, Bong County, is making efforts not just to unveil what might have gone wrong, but also institute stringent measures that would ensure that such an unfortunate incident doesn’t happen again.It may be recalled that there was a chemical spill when a section of the geo-membrane of the Tailing Storage Facility (TSF) ruptured at the MNG Gold facility, affecting the victims who were taken to Phebe Hospital in Suakoko for immediate medical examination. The situation has since been greeted with angry reactions across the country—and the government, through the CMT, has since taken steps to remedy it.The rupture resulted in an uncontrolled discharge of ‘slurry’ containing a high concentration of cyanide into the Sein Creek and the surrounding environment.At a press conference on Tuesday, the CMT, led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), availed its findings by technicians who visited the site from October 5-7.EPA Deputy Executive Director Urias Goll, who addressed the press conference, said: “No free cyanide (a deadly chemical used to extract gold) was detected in the nearby Sein Creek which had a concentration level of 0.310ppm during the first trip.”All six hand pumps in the community, Mr. Goll said, were assessed but found no cyanide concentration, thus no impact on groundwater at the moment.Compared to the previous assessment, Mr. Goll noted that the free cyanide levels have decreased by 44 percent from 0.966ppm to 0.540ppm within the TSF. “It can be accepted considering the limit is 50mg/L in TSF according to International Cyanide Management Code,” he said.As a temporary measure to remedy the crisis, the EPA and CMT have authorized MNG to take some immediate actions. One of these is for the company to de-water the TSF that holds about 300,000 cubic meters of water under strict compliance with IFC standards and the Water Quality Guidelines of Liberia.“A third party has been hired to conduct compliance testing and monitoring during the de-watering process. This de-watering process is intended to access the full damage of the TSF in order to ensure comprehensive rehabilitation and repair,” Goll noted.MNG will construct a mini-dam (TSF) as an interim measure to continue its operations while the current TSF is being adequately repaired. However, the mini-dam is already part of the expansion plan developed by MNG.The CMT also indicated that out of the 34 persons hospitalized at Phebe Hospital, only 6 have required further examination and the rest have been discharged without any complication. “We have not received the latest medical report from the 6 persons but will inform the public once the doctor submits the details of the examination,” he indicated.MNG has provided food items (300 bags of rice, 4 cartons of chicken, 3 cartons of beef) and 4 poly tanks to supply clean and safe drinking water to the community for the month of October.MNG–Gold is a Turkish Mining company working in several parts of Kokoyah District in Bong County. The company took over from the American-Liberian Mining Company (Amlib) in 2013 following a mutual agreement between the two companies.The government, immediately upon the occurrence of the incident, organized the CMT, which has been working with MNG Gold and the community to amicably remedy the situation.The CMT is also responsible to ensure that the impact of the disaster does not leave any side effects, long or short-term, on the affected communities, especially their sources of water. The CMT also wants to ensure that such a situation does not happen again.The CMT will again visit the site on October 19 to continue its investigation. MMG-Gold suspended its operations since the incident on September 23.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Aurora Gold MineGuyana Goldfields Inc has announced the resumption of operations at the Aurora Gold Mines, after workers would have downed tools and initiated strike actions last Tuesday over grievances relating to their unionisation and severance payments.Three days without production has resulted in the non-processing of an estimated 22,500 ounces of gold.On Friday, the Canadian company indicated that persons are returning to work on a phased approach and it is anticipated that full production will resume shortly.“As a result of the three operational days lost, the company estimates that approximately 22,500 tonnes were not processed, however, full-year production guidance remains unaffected at 145,000-160,000 ounces of gold”, the company stated in a release.Dialogue between employee representatives and the Government has been promised along with full compliance to Guyana’s labour laws.Chief Operation Officer, Suresh Kalathil said in a statement, “Personnel are being re-mobilised and the site is ramping back up to normal operations in a phased and safe manner. The company has agreed to a dialogue with employee representatives and Government authorities to resolve any outstanding issues in full compliance with Guyanese labour law.”The company spent much of Wednesday transporting most of its personnel, via aircraft, from Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) to the Eugene F Correia Airport.The workers had claimed that they were threatened with having their Wi-Fi cut off which is vital to ensure communication from their Cuyuni-Mazaruni location to family members on the coast.This publication spoke to several workers, including one who revealed what concerns drove the workers to strike.“There were certain concerns raised by those who were contract workers for four years and so on, and they haven’t been given any confirmation. There are cases where some workers are truck drivers and others are utility operators. That means they can operate many other equipment. And they’re paid on the same rate as the truck drivers,” the worker said.Another added, “There were safety concerns being raised. And salaries. People have been working with the company for years and they’ve been advancing and working with other equipment and pay wise, they’re paid at a standard rate”.While the company had said that workers “blocked” the delivery of ore to the mills, the workers explained that staff, in fact, lay on the ground in an effort to prevent the loader from transferring the ore from the stockpile.Matters had escalated on Thursday to a point where the mining company suspended most of its operations.President of the National Mining Workers Union (NMWU) Sherwyn Downer had previously complained that his efforts with the Department of Labour to gain recognition in order to represent Guyana Goldfields workers were being hindered by the company.On the other hand, the company has said that by law, Downer needed the support of 41 per cent of all workers and not just those stationed at Buckhall. The company had also made it plain that it will not allow the union on site to seek that support from workers, but rather, such a pitch must be made away from Aurora.In an interview at the Department on Wednesday, Minister Scott acknowledged the workers’ concern about being unrepresented by a union. He gave the Government’s commitment to ensure workers get their representation.