I have seen your editorial ‘Bauxite dust disgrace’ (September 12) and noted that you have blamed local authorities including the municipality for the dust nuisance problem in the town. I chuckled at the accusation and said “if you only knew.”
First up, this has been a community problem for decades dating back to when the company was owned by DEMBA, then state owned(1971-2003), followed by OMAI/IAMGOLD(2003-2007) and finally ending in the hands of BOSAI (2007-current). I was told that wet scrubbers were to be installed in the 1970s, but these were ineffective and so the dust problem remained. In 2003 OMAI presented a proposal which spoke to the question of a dust recycler and we were hopeful that the matter was going to be fully addressed. IAMGOLD took over and it was clear that bauxite was not going to be a major product of this company. Within a year the company sold its shares to BOSAI. This Chinese company did not get immediate support from some of us in the community because it was felt that their purpose was to take over the company to close the facility down so that Chinese bauxite could prevail above Guyana’s bauxite.
Not long after their takeover the global financial crisis was creating chaos in bauxite business all over, but the company kept its Linden door open. This was commendable. It was announced that the dust recycler would be installed as a commitment and gave September 2010 as the installation date. (I saw the editorial quoting four dates.) This fell through and the date of October 2011 was given as the new date. This date too has fallen through and the new date is February 2012.
I have been one of the foremost advocates for the dust collector/recycler and have kept up a genuine interest in the development by seeking regular feedback from the company. Blame will be placed on their public awareness programme for coming up short, and so the licks they have received they should absorb for lack of a spirited effort. Naturally, if I was convinced that they were being deceptive I would have been the first to raise hell.
There are other issues pertaining to the community in localised areas and we have had meetings with the company and continue to engage them in earnestness for their corporate responses in a challenging environment. They have inherited some issues and must seek to address these regardless. At the same time we should be reasonable and help provide support where possible.
I have gone to the sites where the plants are to be installed and I am satisfied with the effort made where kiln 14’s foundation is completed and kiln 13’s is about 85% complete. Looking at the challenges they faced in that construction I was surprised that they finished the foundation in the time they did. I have also seen the offloading of the components for the plant and they reported that the Chinese engineers are to be here by September 15, 2011 to complete the installation.
The EPA has been working with the company on this matter. So for me, I am convinced that BOSAI will produce the recycler and I hope the moment will not be lost because for a company being here for less than four years and investing US$6M to alleviate the decades-old sufferings of the residents, is quite significant. Naturally, they will recycle the dust and make some money. So it is not all benevolence and cute overtures.
I would like to warn residents than when the plants are installed and functional we will still get dust from kiln10 (dryer). Maybe it is time to lobby the minority shareholder to handle this one.