RUSAL set for major bauxite expansion with arrival of US$21M of equipment

The RUSAL-owned bauxite company in Guyana is now poised for the expansion of its local operations with the deployment of US$21M worth of vehicles and equipment from its business in Jamaica.

The equipment will also play a pivotal part in maintaining the access road from Linden to Aroaima.

The Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI), a subsidiary of the Russian-owned RUSAL  was yesterday elated to showcase their commitment to expanding their operations at Aroaima, Upper Berbice River where steps are moving apace for the opening of two new mines at Block 22 at Kurubuka and Block 38 at Cocrite. A simple commissioning ceremony was held at their Aroaima location where they exhibited the new fleet.

Some of the vehicles

The fleet consists of 64 excavators, dozers, trucks, graders and loaders. There were 30 Ford and Mitsubishi pick-ups and buses and 41 forklifts, generators, lighting sets, tyre handlers, water trucks, service and mechanic trucks all of which were sourced from RUSAL’s Jamaica operations according the company’s General Manager Ruslan Volokhov.

“I feel quite relieved and justified for making the difficult decision that we would have seen over the last seventeen years.” So said Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who has responsibility for bauxite while addressing workers and management of the company yesterday. “The success that we all see before us today is the plan that they are all aware of for the continued operations for the next twenty, thirty years” added the Prime Minister.

Hinds spoke of the importance of protecting jobs which according to him hinges on having profitable companies. He said that the government of the day has done its part in ensuring that a reasonable share of profit is demanded from all investors operating in Guyana.

Hinds used the opportunity to appeal to bauxite workers to change their ways of thinking to coincide with the change in time. “The government that nationalized bauxite in the early nineties is the same government that accepted the change back to privatization of bauxite operations.”

The Prime Minister also noted with gratitude the company’s commitment to the upkeep of the stretch of road from Aroaima to Linden and according to the company’s Equipment Maintenance Supervisor, Compton Haynes, it is being done on a monthly basis. The upkeep of the fair weather road has significantly reduced the long hours spent to travel to and from Ituni, much to the gratification of residents and other commuters.

At the commissioning ceremony approximately fifty workers were awarded certificates and bonuses in the equipment/maintenance departments, Block 5 mines, warehouse, security and other departments. Sub-divisional Police Commander Michael Sutton and Inspector of Police, head of traffic Timothy Williams were also awarded.

BCGI is presently embroiled in a controversy over its legal challenge to arbitration which has been ordered by the Minister of Labour for a dispute the company has with the union, GBG&WU.

Jamaica

The removal of the equipment from Jamaica had sparked some concerns in Kingston. The government had confirmed reports that RUSAL was sending some of its equipment to Guyana however, Phillip Paulwell, the minister of science, technology, energy and mining, told the House of Representatives in early February that the Government was unaware of any plans for the firm to close its operations here.

“UC RUSAL has not stated any intentions to close Ewarton,” Paulwell said.

UC RUSAL owns 100 per cent of Alpart and 93 per cent of Windalco. The Alpart and Windalco Kirkvine plants have been closed since 2009, while the Ewarton plant was reopened in 2010.

Responding to questions posed by the opposition spokesman on mining, J.C. Hutchinson, Paulwell said the equipment being exported had been idle for three years.

According to Paulwell, equipment being removed by UC RUSAL is owned by a third party.

He said the contract for the supply of the equipment, which included large trucks, was terminated last November as it was determined it was less economical to operate.

UC RUSAL bought the equipment from the third party and is exporting it to its Guyana operations, he had said.

“No equipment are being removed that will affect adjoining communities,” Paulwell said.

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