Guyana to Have First Underground Mining Operation

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The site of Guyana’s first underground mining operation at Aurora.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Guyana Goldfields Inc (GGI) says it is going
ahead with plans for a US$120 million underground mining project that could come
on stream as early as 2022.

At an event held on Sunday, the company’s President and CEO, Scott Caldwell,
said that by the end of the month he will provide the results of an ongoing
feasibility study on underground mining at the Aurora Gold Mine.

The project, 100%-owned by Guyana Goldfields, achieved commercial production
in January 2016 and produced 160,000 ounces of gold in 2017.

“We are working on that (underground mining) study right now and will publish it at
the end of the month. Previous (assessments) would have been four years from
now; 2022 to start. I believe this is going to show us starting sooner than 2022,”
GCI chief executive officer, Scott Caldwell, told reporters.

According to Caldwell, the company underground operations are aimed at
extracting more than 2 million ounces of the yellow metal. Aurora has a total gold
resource of 6.25 million ounces in the measured and indicated categories, as well
as an additional 1.79 million ounces in the inferred category.

“We are working on the numbers right now but it would be sooner than 2022. I just
don’t know the year as yet but it would be sooner than 2022. In less than a month
we will know… the risk analysis was done and now is just a matter of when we
start and we will know the answer to that in about a month.”

President David Granger tours the Aurora Gold Mines. (Photo by Guyana
Goldfields file photo)

Caldwell, who said that the company has paid US$26.5 million in royalties since it
began operations in 2015, added ‘we want to become the premier underground
gold miner in Guyana and South America”.

He told reporters that the tests on the hydrology, soil and rock mechanics, have
shown that there is no seepage from the Cuyuni River to the area where
underground mining would be conducted.

“Today, we don’t see any seepage from the river and it’s all coming from below and
we are just not doing this and popping up. What it’s coming from are old
exploration holes; they were drilled and they weren’t capped and weren’t filled and
so water is coming from the old exploration holes,” he said. He virtually ruled out
seepage from the river into the underground pits because the rock structure is very
sturdy.

Going below surface would allow the mid-tier producer to extract higher quality
gold at a cheaper price. “Gold prices are better and we see the opportunity to do
so,” Caldwell told local media. The feasibility study assumes that underground
mining at the site’s Rory’s Knoll will utilise open benching and sublevel retreat
mining methods with mining concluding at a depth of -770 metres below sea level.

Plans of going underground also have the potential of causing “less surface
disturbance” to the environment, the executive said.

Guyana Goldfields’ president also acknowledged that the firm is monitoring the
developments regarding the Guyana/Venezuela long-running border controversy,
which was recently referred to the International Court of Justice by the United
Nations.

Last year GGI produced 160,000 ounces of gold with an estimated value of US
$200 million and the company said it intends to employ 150 permanent workers for
its underground operations to extract more than two million ounces of gold.

In 2015, a Venezuelan official asked the Canadian miner to dessist of its
operations in Guyana, warning that it would be “infringing on the territorial
sovereignty of Venezuela and committing unlawful actions which could incur legal
consequences.”

The Aurora mine is located in the Essequibo Region, which was ceded in the 19th
Century and is being claimed back by the neighbouring country since 1962.

 

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