I would like to follow up on my letter regarding the possible benefits of the use of laterite in Guyana by listing another resource that is abundant in Guyana but not being utilised – river-bed sand.
As one crosses the Rio Branco bridge in Brazil, just before entering Boa Vista, there is a large factory along the river edge. This factory makes ceramic products such as bricks and tiles using sand extracted from the river bed. This sand is extracted by means of dredges (similar to those used in the mining industry).The material is said to be very hardy and is extensively used in building and road construction.
In Lethem, river sand from the Takutu River is also extensively used for road and building construction. This extraction is done manually, and mechanically when the Takutu River is very low and the sand becomes exposed. Businessmen have expressed interest in mining this material for commercial purposes, but due to its lack of use in Guyana, there is no proper legislation covering its extraction (land leases or mining permits).
River sand is not known to be similarly used anywhere else in Guyana even though it is abundant, especially along the Essequibo River (which is similar in size to the Rio Branco). This therefore begs the question if Guyana is aware of the properties of river sand and if any attempt was ever made to have it extracted for commercial uses, as in the case of laterite and white sand.
Has any research ever been conducted to determine the quality of our river sand and its possible commercial use? If Boa Vista can create an industry out of extracting this material for commercial purposes then definitely Guyana should be able to do the same.
River sand should be deemed a natural resource, similar to white sand and laterite. The management of such resources falls under the purview of the GGMC. It may benefit our country if this agency (or government) undertakes a scientific study of this resource to determine if it has any real use in Guyana.
They could set up a pilot project in Lethem (since there is already extensive use of the material) and, if proven successful, expand its use throughout Guyana. If Brazil benefits so extensively from this resource then there is no reason why Guyana can’t do the same.
Who knows, this resource could create a whole new industry in Guyana.