Logging company Vaitarna Holding Private Incorporated (VHPI) has been granted a Timber Sales Agreement (TSA) for the 391,853 hectares of forest originally awarded in 2007 to US-based Simon and Shock International Logging Inc (SSILI), and can now harvest logs from the concessions.
The concessions are located in Regions Nine and Six. VHPI is a subsidiary of the India-based Coffee Day Group. Coffee Day, through its Dark Forest subsidiary, in 2010 acquired the State Forest Exploratory Permit (SFEP) for 391,853 hectares of forest originally awarded in 2007 to SSILI, after buying out SSILI. The company subsequently moved to acquire a TSA which has now been granted, enabling the company to harvest logs from the concession.
VHPI also holds a 345,961 hectares concession which was originally assigned to Caribbean Resources Limited (CRL) after paying $600 million to the government for the TSA. The company has been harvesting and exporting logs from this concession. As with other foreign logging companies, questions have been raised about their intentions to set up value-added wood processing operations. Vaitarna had pledged this from the outset but its plant has not yet been operationalized.
The total area held by Coffee Day is 737,814 hectares of forest, and that made it the second largest forestry concession holder in Guyana after Barama Company Limited. However, through deals with other companies, the Chinese logging company Bai Shan Lin controls more acreage.
Earlier this year, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud told Stabroek News that Vaitarna is in an advanced stage of setting up its promised wood processing facility at Wineperu.
In response to questions from Stabroek News, Persaud said he was advised by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) that the facility is located at the company’s log yard at Wineperu on the west bank of the Essequibo River. “The facility is being constructed on an area of approximately 30,000 square feet. The land has been cleared; the surveying and design of the structure is in progress; and construction is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014,” he said.
The company had said that a wood processing facility would be set up here and since it began operations over three years ago, it has exported logs to India and China. Persaud had previously said that there would be no large-scale export of logs by Vaitarna.
Vaitarna’s planned production level for 2014 is 30 000 cubic metres of wood.