Omai still prospecting for gold

Omai Gold Mines Limited is not yet done with gold in Guyana and hopes that in a year’s time it is ready to move forward with a new mine, having closed its 12- year operations in the Essequibo River in the latter part of 2005.

The company, now under the ownership of Canadian company IAMGOLD, is at present looking at opportunities in Eagle Mountain and in the Puruni, among some other sites with a view to recommencing large scale gold mining operations.

It is now carrying out exploration works which are likely to continue for another year before it is known whether mining will take place.

So says Norman McLean, Human Resources Manager at Omai Gold Mines while speaking with this newspaper recently.

But he explained that the exploration will take a long time to come to fruition and will have to await the findings of the drilling programme, noting that the Essequibo River mine took eight years of exploration before yielding gold.

McLean said that the company has increased its workforce in anticipation of the drilling that is taking place at Eagle Mountain. The company recently transported its diamond-tipped drill to the Eagle Mountain for the drilling programme.

Senior managers of IAMGOLD recently visited the country to oversee the exploration operations in the various locations.

Omai’s operation in the Essequibo River was the largest gold extraction operation in Guyana to date and its closure left a gap in annual gold production figures for Guyana. The company had ceased operations during the third quarter of 2005.

When the company started out in 1993, there were estimated reserves of 2.1 million ounces of gold and a mine life of ten years. Over the period of that company’s operations gold reserves were increased by over 50% to 3.7 million ounces from 2.1 million ounces and the mine life extended by 20 per cent to 12 years from 10 years.

Last year exploration began at Omai to establish the potential for an underground operation on the depth extension of the Fennell deposit, after closing open-pit gold mining operations back in 2005.

IAMGOLD Senior Americas Vice President Jacques Perron had told this newspaper recently that the company was studying and analysing the results from the drilling data. He said the company is in the process of looking at the possibilities for underground mining.

Speaking to this newspaper, acting Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) William Woolford said that Omai’s future activities were awaiting the result of the exploration work.

A number of large mining companies are at the moment exploring in various parts of the country for gold deposits, including Guyana Goldfields, Sacre Coeur and Stratagold.

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