Bai Shan Lin, the Chinese logging company, has been granted a number of State Forest Exploratory Permits (SFEPs) in addition to joint venturing with two companies – Haimorakabra and Wood Association Industries Company Limited (WAICO), whose Timber Sales Agreement (TSA) concession combined, comprise some 78,972 hectares (ha) in the Berbice area.
The Chinese logging company has been given two SFEPs totalling 104,768 hectares.
The first one comprising 41,412 hectares is located on the left bank Essequibo River, right bank Rewa River, and right bank Aktayaru Creek.
The second SFEP comprising 63,356 hectares is located left bank Berbice River; right bank Essequibo River. Altogether, Bai Shan Lin could be operating in concessions totalling 183,740 hectares.
Further, the Ministry of Natural Resources said that Bai Shan Lin can access forest products from other concessions by purchasing these products “after the relevant concession holders would have harvested same.”
It said however that the company cannot harvest products from any other concession area, unless they are authorised with a special permission by the GFC. The ministry in a written response to this newspaper’s queries said that the GFC does not grant such permissions unless it is in the national interest or for other special justification.
Pointing out that there were no special conditionalities given to the company, the ministry said that Bai Shan Lin applied for the joint ventures and SFEP in accordance with the forestry legislation “and they satisfied all of the necessary requirements, including proof of financial ability to support the expected operations of the TSAs that they wanted to do a JV with; and the necessary competence to undertake the SFEP process.”
The ministry said Bai Shan Lin has to operate like any other company, complying with the standards/guidelines of the GFC/GoG inclusive of providing Forest Management and Annual Operational Plans, doing 100 per cent pre-harvest inventory, complying with the Code of Practice for Forest Operations.
For the SFEPs to be converted into TSAs, the company has to satisfactorily complete a Forest Inventory, a Business Plan and, an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). “Only then will the GFC Board of Directors, and Cabinet give approval for conversion to a TSA,” the ministry said.
The mix of local versus foreign employees is expected to be in the ratio of 85:15 after 3 years. “In the initial 3 years, the company may upon justification, be allowed to bring in more than the 15 per cent especially if the requisite skills are lacking in-country,” said the ministry.
Whenze Chu, President of China Forest Industry Group, the parent company of Bai Shan Lin Forest Development Inc, revealed on Monday that the company is preparing for the first phase of what will be a US$500 million investment in the wood processing sector. During this phase it plans to fill some 700 positions. In advertisements in the media, Bai Shan Lin said that it had vacancies for 220 factory construction workers, 80 skilled chain-saw operators, 80 semi-skilled chain-saw operators, 30 bulldozer operators, 35 loading truck drivers, 60 dump truck drivers, two excavator and grader operators, 60 logging truck drivers, 20 container truck drivers, 10 mechanics, 10 servicemen, 13 cooks and 80 inventory clerks. The company aims to fill all these positions by March 1, 2013.
“The main purpose for us for publishing the vacancy notice is to get the Guyanese workers for our Linden wood processing plant, our exhibition centre and international mall at Providence and for our housing projects in Guyana,” Whenze said.
“Our intention for the direction of the project is to put value added to those raw materials and this is why we employ so many people so that after we finish the construction of our wood processing plant, we can begin value-added operations on the logs coming from our concession,” he added.
Whenze said too that the total output per annum for the wood processing operation will be US$200 million.