— removing items from Kurubuka mines
EVEN as there continues to be uncertainty on the operations of the Russian-owned Bauxite Company of Guyana (BCGI) and its future in Guyana, the company has reportedly terminated another batch of employees, approximately 40, and has been seen shipping more materials from its Kurubuka Mines over the past few days.
At least one employee has confirmed to Guyana Chronicle that he was fired earlier this week; however, Chief Labour Officer, Charles Ogle, told this publication that he is not aware of the terminations, notwithstanding the company being required to report such developments to the Department of Labour.
This latest batch of employees would add to the 326 employees that the company fired in February when it suspended operations following industrial unrest over wage increases and compensation for two injured employees.
In January, the employees had blocked a section of the Berbice River preventing the company from shipping materials or equipment from its mines, as rumours circulated that the company was closing down operations entirely to avoid paying the employees.
After six months and two weeks of maintaining the blockage, the employees, last Friday, removed the impediment, and the company was seen shortly after shipping a number of containers from the mines’ location.
“After we removed the blockage, they started bringing down stuff from the Kurubuka Mines to the water front and they loaded them in barges and they took them away. We notice that they packing up every single thing to take away right now. They just ship out a few containers well a couple of days ago,” informed Garfield Brutus, a former employee of the company, and workers representative.
Brutus was among the last of the employees to remove from the river, where they had been guarding the blockage.
“They said they’re packing up and go away; that is just word of mouth, we haven’t seen anything in writing. We have informed NICIL of what is going on but nobody has come to the front to see what is going on,” he further noted.
BCGI is largely owned by global aluminum giant RUSAL, which has a 90 per cent share in the company, the other 10 per cent is owned by the government, managed through the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
However, earlier this year, NICIL confirmed that the company has not been paying over any dividends to the government for its shares. In 2018, an executive for the company had told media operatives that the company had not been making any profits in all the years it has been operating here; however, many had not been buying the excuse.
The company has been operating in Guyana since 2006 after acquiring the assets of Aroaima Mining Company Inc. (AMC). RUSAL holds licences for the development of bauxite fields in the Linden, Kwakwani and Ituni groups.
Since the suspension of operations in February there has been no word on the future of the company in Guyana. The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) later had confirmed, in February, that the company had shipped a number of pieces of equipment out of Guyana, after paying over $$300M in taxes that was owed to the government.
Additionally, in April, Oldendorff Carriers Guyana Inc. (OCGI), which was contracted by RUSAL to perform barging and trans-shipment operation for bauxite exports on the Berbice River, wind down its operations in Guyana after RUSAL did not extend their contract.