When the First Bauxite Corporation starts full production in November at Sand Hills, in Region Three, it will do so with an annual production target of 320,000 tonnes of high grade bauxite, according to Director Ian Christie.
“When we hit full production and commission in November, from then we will target a production of 320,000 tonnes annually of high grade bauxite. It’s very, very pure… roughly 93% and that compares with other producers in the country that are in the 86% to 87% [range] and as far as we know it’s the purest in the world,” Christie told Sunday Stabroek last Wednesday, while pointing out that the company’s aim is to execute the project in a safe and timely manner while staying in line with their budget.
Christie explained that while the venture is still in the developmental stage, the company currently has some 247 persons on staff, comprising 152 contracted workers and 72 permanent workers, including 10 from the Sand Hills community, as well as eight expatriate workers and another 15 Sand Hills residents, employed on a “casual” basis, mainly in the forestry area.
He said that when the construction is completed and the company is ready to commission the mine in November, the contracted workers should be gone. However, during full production, there will be roughly around 220 to 230 persons employed. While a large number of them will be expatriates, he pointed out that they will be working on training the Guyanese staff so that they can phase out the expatriates present during the first year of production.
Apart from the company itself and its development, Christie said that the company has made a commitment to not only provide potable water and electricity to the Sand Hills community but it has also separately budgeted for the construction of a brand new school in the area alongside where the current school is located.
“We are going to try to make it a real model school, with high grade computer systems in the school. So we can take a step from nothing, because they didn’t have electricity over a year ago and we provided them with temporary solar panels. So for this year they can have electricity to run the computers. It’s at the half way stage at the moment, in terms of the facility,” Christie added, while noting that in excess of US$400,000 has been budgeted for the construction of the school.
Additionally the company has also awarded four scholarships to students transitioning from primary to secondary school.
Christie noted that once they complete secondary school, the company will assist them in furthering their studies in either a trade or at the University of Guyana.
“Primary scholarships will be for kids coming out of the Sand Hills community. That will be ongoing and we also facilitate sports equipment for them and things like that. We are planning on having an annual cricket match also,” he added.
Christie said that the company is looking forward to making an impact on Guyana’s exports while injecting funds into the community.
“There is a model or priority in mining operations like this, that spreads out in the community with services, airline, food suppliers, and that counts so you actually are affecting in the region of 700 households… We know when these things are taken into account they do have a big impact,” Christie said.