The return of Omai
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GUYANA, a small English-speaking country in South America, has seen a great improvement in development over the years. This development is owed to the fact that this native land is filled with many resources that are in great demand worldwide. Some of these include agriculture, fisheries, forestry, mining (bauxite, diamond, gold), and the most recent being oil and gas.

With the discovery of oil in 2015 and subsequent discoveries, Guyana is on a rapid path to further development and is quickly positioning itself on the world map with the influx of foreign investments and renewed interest by local companies who are looking at expansion through diversifying their operations here. Brazil’s Economic Minister, the Honourable Paulo Roberto Nunes Guedes, has dubbed Guyana the Dubai of the Region.

Already we have seen renewed interest by Omai Gold Mines Limited (OGML) to recommence its operations here with a hopeful start in operations in 2022. They are expected to resuscitate their old mining lands by investing USD12M to start preparations. OGML started operations in 1993 and was forced to cease its mining activities in 2005. During its time in Guyana Omai Gold Mines had employed over 1000 Guyanese and managed to produce 3.7 Million ounces of gold
In 2000, the total quantum of gold declared was 434,349 ounces, of which Omai Gold Mines’ output was 329,192 ounces, which covered 75.8 per cent of the total declaration (an 8.3 per cent increase from 1999). The remaining 24.2 per cent was declared by small and medium-scale miners who, due to financial difficulties and rising oil prices, had a decline in output (4.9 per cent) when compared to the previous year.

The year 2005 saw a decline in declaration over the previous five-year span of 38.4 per cent. During those five years there was a scheduled depleted reserve of OGML which caused the output to slowly decline. The unfavourable weather conditions along with high fuel prices did not help the situation and as such, in September 2005, OGML closed its operations as the price of gold had reached the highest point in almost 25 years with a rate of USD 502 per ounce of gold. The departure of OGML resulted in a tremendous loss to the mining industry, as well as to Guyana’s economy.

In 2010 there was an increase in the declaration of gold over the previous five-year span of 15.2 per cent. This was due to small and medium-scale miners taking advantage of the high prices in the international market and consistently managing their mining activities. The development of new mining areas, improved road access and the implementation of policies for new private buyers and explorers also contributed to the increased declaration during the five years.

By 2015 it was recorded that the gold-mining industry grew by 46.2 per cent from 2010. The small and medium-scale miners were the main contributors who covered 91.0 per cent of the declaration. Along with lower costs of fuel and efforts by the authorities to minimise smuggling, there has been a better output. There were also the entries of two large foreign gold-mining companies – Guyana Goldfields Inc and Troy Resources in the latter half of 2015 who managed to declare nine per cent gold of the total output.
In 2019 the industry grew by 29.8 per cent from 2015. During the four years declarations fluctuated. In 2016 the declaration increased tremendously to 712,706 ounces of gold from 450,873 ounces in 2015 (small and medium-scale miners – 67.7 per cent and the two large miners – 32.3 per cent). There were also increased gold prices along with lower fuel costs and concession grants. In 2017-2018, the declaration started to decline by all miners due to the increase in smuggling, poor road access to mining sites where maintenance was stalled because of rainfall. However, in 2019 the declarations started to improve by all gold miners.

In conclusion, it can be seen that based on the track records of the gold mining industry, that Omai Gold Mines alone has contributed a great lot to Guyana’s economy while it was in operation here. Providing that all necessary preparations are properly made and Omai Gold Mines is ready to make a grand return to business, Guyana can surely expect a higher GDP (Gross Domestic Product) rate in the future, along with a more developed economy. This will also benefit thousands of persons who are currently jobless, thus reducing the unemployment rate (currently 11.81 per cent, Oct 2020) both directly and indirectly hence, increasing the spending power of thousands of households.

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