AUSTRALIAN-OWNED gold-mining company Troy Resources is scheduled to terminate over 200 workers, with some having already been laid off due to the downsizing of operations at its Karouni Gold Mine in Region Seven.
The layoffs are said to be due to the company not yet being fully prepared to begin mining at this underground pit, among other technical issues.
Representatives from the company met with Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton on Friday at his Brickdam Office, where it was explained that the company is expected to retain a skeleton staff of approximately 70 to 80 of the more than 300 employees.
“As I understand it, they have already started the layoffs. In the first instance, based on what they said [Friday] morning, they laid off a certain amount of persons and now they have to lay off more persons because they are delayed in moving to the other location where they are supposed to be doing underground mining,” the minister explained during an interview with the Guyana Chronicle after the meeting.
The terminations will be the second of its kind for the company in less than two years. Some 227 employees had been terminated in October 2019 when the company had suspended operations following the on-site death of Ryan Taylor, who was an employee at the time.
That suspension had compounded the company’s already fragile financial state, as it has been plagued with financial issues over the years, and has had problems meeting production targets. Following the suspension, the company had later resumed operations in December 2019 and began rehiring employees.
“Presently, they have over 300 employees, about 70 to 80 of the 300 odd would be retained during the [current termination] process which would include security personnel and the 15 office staff who run the Georgetown office,” the minister explained.
Joining Hamilton at Friday’s meeting was Acting Chief Labour Officer Michelle Baburam. Hamilton said he questioned the company’s representatives about how long they expect to remain out of operation, and of the possibility for the terminated staff to be rehired upon the company’s resumption of normal operations.
“They couldn’t give a deadline as to when all of these issues would be resolved. I asked if they talking about a year’s time; they said they don’t want to commit themselves. The CEO for the company is supposed to be here on Wednesday and they would be a better position at that time to give me answers to some of the questions I was asking,” Hamilton stated.
At the meeting it was also outlined that workers who will be affected by the downsizing of operations will be paid in accordance with the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act.
Hamilton said the company explained that the termination was unavoidable due to circumstances at the company with being able to carry out mining at its various pits.
“They are delayed in the geotechnical work that has to do with the new location. The new location primarily they will be doing a lot of underground mining. So, all the details, the testing, all the issues have not concluded, so they properly cannot move there. Secondly, they have plans also in the short term to extend the Hicks mining area. They said the testing has proven that they have some minerals there, so they have to extend that in the short-term. So those are the issues,” Hamilton said. Efforts made to contact Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, for a comment on the situation proved futile. Troy Resources is one of several foreign-owned, large-scale gold-mining companies operating in Guyana.
Troy Resources began operations here in 2013 after buying over Pharsalus Gold. According to the company, it initially spent approximately US$76 million on plant and equipment, plus construction of the processing plant and mine development before starting production in 2015. Since beginning operations, the company says it has developed a total of 10 open mines, two underground mines and four processing plants.