Aurora Gold Mine employs 256 Guyanese

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As Aurora Gold Mine (AGM) restarts production in a phased manner under new management, questions have been raised as to how many of the local, unionised staff who were previously made redundant will be rehired.

In an interview with Inews, Human Resources Manager Peter Benny explained that both unionised and non-unionised workers have been rehired. He noted that AGM has rehired 56 former employees to complement the 200 workers who had been retained by Aurora to work during the care and maintenance period.

Of the 56, Benny noted that “21 was unionised and 35 non-unionised, representing 37.5 per cent of the total. And I asked what was the total number of unionised employees before the shutdown.”

“It was 143 employees out of a possible 350 employees within the Bargaining Unit. The percentage of unionised (workers) prior to shutdown was 40.85 per cent, (so) it seems to be a consistent percentage when compared to the rehired former employees,” Benny added.

Aerial view of a pit at Aurora Gold Mines

It was further related to this publication that production will be restarted in phases, with the first and current phase being stripping activities, that is the removal of overburden. According to the company in a statement, the 56 rehired staff were drawn from a shortlist of experienced and highly skilled former employees.

The company also informed this publication that it has not hired any additional personnel and that as they continue their activities, more former employees skilled in this area will be rehired by AGM. The company noted that former employees will continue to enjoy first preference, once they have the relevant skills.

“The plan is to rehire as far as practicable, former employees who are skilled and experienced as determined by the department managers and supervisors. Since the focus would be on opening up of the mines, no major activities would be extended to the Mill Department. Support staff would be rehired on a need basis.”

“Should the required levels of skills no longer reside within the former employee pool, the company will then post vacancy notices both internally and externally for the relevant skills. All persons including those former employees would be allowed to apply to fill those vacant positions,” Benny explained.

An AGM local employee recruitment form seen by this publication shows that the company is looking to hire staff in various departments, including equipment maintenance, mining, engineering and health and safety.

In operations, the company is hiring excavator, harvester, sprinkler, bulldozer, loader and roller operators. It is also hiring safety officers, surveyors, mining engineers, drillers, blasters and cooks.

AGM, previously owned by Canada-based Guyana Goldfields, has since come under the control of Chinese mining company Zijin Mining Group Co after it bought out Goldfields and its operations in Guyana.

Goldfields had moved to downsize its operations since May 2020, after facing constraints from the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with other financial woes. It was also linked to the company’s transition into underground mining.

After initially selling its operations to Silvercorp, another Canadian mining company, Zijin Mining Group made a superior offer to Goldfields that Silvercorp failed to match within the stipulated time. As a result, Zijin was able to clinch the deal.

Hundreds of local workers were laid off by Goldfields in the process, their job descriptions ranging from attendants to electricians to heavy-duty equipment operators and blasters. Workers were paid their severance, however, with the new Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat making it clear that Zijin will have to fulfil all safety and other regulatory requirements in Guyana.