US$35.6M venture in line with value added thrust – President Ramotar
A MASSIVE investment of US$35.6M will be made in the next coming months into three new bio-mass projects, following an agreement between the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) and a multinational company, Pinnacle Green Resources (Guyana) Limited.
The three projects, using the waste products from the agriculture and forestry sectors, are the:
* Construction and operation of a facility to produce three tonnes per day of activated carbon from coconut shells, primarily to service the gold recovery industry in Guyana;
* Construction and operation of a facility to produce 200-tonnes per day of wood-pellets, for export to Europe; and
* Construction and operation of a gasification and eight megawatts (MW) electricity generating facility in Guyana.
Government has leased some 5,000 acres of land in Region 2 (Pomeroon/ Supenaam) to Pinnacle Green Resources (Guyana) Limited and the IAST is expected to support the company’s operations with a transfer of its general ‘know-how’ and other technical expertise. In exchange, IAST has a five per cent equity stake in the $35M investment. The $35M invested in totality by Pinnacle Green Resources (Guyana) Limited is financed through a 60-40 debt/ equity ratio, which will see the parent company putting up the finances and the remaining funds being provided through a financial institution. There are also no-concessionary privileges beyond what is stated in Guyana’s tax laws, which have been given to Pinnacle Green Resources (Guyana) Limited.
Additionally, the three ventures are expected to provide between 300 and 400 jobs.
VALUE ADDED THRUST
The projects’ details were made public at a press conference yesterday at the Office of the President, and President Donald Ramotar contends that the new ventures are in sync with the thrust for the development of value added products.
According to him, the agriculture and forestry sectors’ bio-waste, including coconut shells to waste wood, provide an opportunity, not only for the creation of value added products, but also an opportunity to reduce environmental hazards.
Mr. Ramotar stated too that the project will place no additional “pressure” on the existing resources Guyana has.
“I am happy with the partnership,” he said, adding that the three ventures will make a huge difference on the Essequibo Coast.
The President highlighted too that while the projects will be started on the Essequibo Coast, they will serve as a demonstration for similar undertakings across the country.
The involvement of the IAST was also lauded by the President, who added that a move beyond research activities to commercial activity by the Institute will ensure its sustainability and, by extension, its continued contribution to Guyana’s development.
Head of the IAST, Dr. Suresh Narine, who also made remarks at the press briefing, explained that the three projects have the potential for many indirect benefits to a range of other sectors.
He stated that over the next few years, the projects are expected to expand and increase the contribution it makes to the local economy.
Dr. Narine highlighted that the construction and operation of a facility to produce three tonnes per day of activated carbon from coconut shells, primarily to service the gold recovery industry in Guyana, will be the first project to get off the ground, within the next eight months.
According to him, the construction and operation of a facility to produce 200-tonnes per day of wood-pellets, for export to Europe, will take 18 months.
The third project, the construction and operation of a gasification and 8 MW electricity generating facility, will take some 24 months.
He explained that initially the Pinnacle Green Resources (Guyana) Limited expressed interest only in the construction and operation of a facility to produce 200-tonnes per day of wood-pellets, but in talks with the IAST, the agreements for the other two were made.
The principals of the company contacted Guyana’s Consul in Florida, Mr. Ram Eli. The Executive Director of Pinnacle Green Resources (Guyana) Limited is Mr. Manu Bansal.
ACTIVATED CARBON PRODUCTION
The construction and operation of a facility to produce three tonnes per day of activated carbon from coconut shells, primarily to service the gold recovery industry in Guyana, according to Dr. Narine, will respond to a great need in Guyana.
He cited the operations of Guyana Goldfields, Sandsprings Resources and Troy Resources – all of which make use of activated carbon in their mining activities.
Activated carbon is a non-graphite form of carbon which could be produced from any carbonaceous material, such as coal, lignite, wood, paddy husk, coir pith, coconut shell, etc. Activated carbon manufactured from coconut shell is considered superior to that obtained from other sources, mainly because of small macro pores structure which renders it more effective for the adsorption of gas/vapour and for the removal of colour and odour of compounds, and adsorption of gold in the gold mining process. Activated carbon is extensively used in the recovery of gold, refining and bleaching of vegetable oils and chemical solutions, water purification, recovery of solvents and other vapours, in gas-masks for protection against toxic gases, in filters for providing adequate protection against war gases/nuclear fall outs, etc. Steam activation and chemical activation are the two commonly used processes for the manufacture of activated carbon. However coconut shell-based activated carbon units are adopting the steam activation process to produce consistently good quality activated carbon.
The IAST Head pointed out that the investment for this project is some US$2.5M.
WOOD PELLET PLANT
With the construction and operation of a facility to produce 200-tonnes per day of wood-pellets, there is also growing demands.
Global production of wood-pellets has steeply climbed from eight million tons per year in 2007 to more than 13 million tons in 2009. Of this production, European countries consumed more than 8 million tons (2009). North American production was approximately 7 million tons in 2009, of which almost 5 million tons was exported to Europe. The European Biomass Association estimates that wood-pellet consumption in Europe will reach 50 million tons per year by 2020.
Pinnacle Green Resources (Guyana) Limited is expected to begin cultivation of an energy plantation on the 5, 000 acres of land in the Pomeroon.
The crop for the plantation is the plant Leucaenaleucocephala, which is a non-invasive species present in Guyana (called the Jumbie Bean).
Dr. Narine stated that, according to a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between the company and Go-Invest, in the period before the plantation begins to produce, the company shall utilise the significant amount of wood species which are non-timber species in Guyana that are not harvested.
Guyana only harvests a fraction of what its sustainable forestry regulations allow, due to the presence of many species of wood that are not sought as timber species. In addition, the company shall utilise the significant waste wood that is generated from the trimming of logs and trees for export.
The total investment for this project is estimated at US$16.5M.
The MOU also stated that the intent of the company is to expand this investment in future years, once the initial facility is operational.
The final project for the construction and operation of a gasification and 8 MW electricity generating facility in Guyana is expected to respond to the electricity demand and cost.
In Guyana there is no significant local generation of electricity from sources other than diesel and heavy oil. It is estimated that electricity generation in the country ranges between 45 and 55 percent of Gross Domestic Product.
Additionally, Dr. Narine said, the biomass opportunity in Guyana is significant. “Guyana produces an estimated 300 per cent of its diesel demand equivalent in biomass on an annual basis,” he said.
This biomass is in the form of agricultural waste (rice hulls and bagasse) and forestry waste from logging and sawmilling. And so there is a significant opportunity to utilise this waste biomass for the generation of electricity.
The investment on this project is estimated at US$16.6M.
The announcement of the three projects comes at a time when Guyana’s potential for green businesses have been widely expounded on.
(By Vanessa Narine)