Aurora Gold Mine not attempting to bring in 200 Chinese workers – Director

Aurora Gold Mines

Aurora Gold Mine has denied allegations that it sought permission to bring in Chinese workers for its operations in Guyana, under the auspices of new Chinese management, Zijin Mining Group Company.

Director of Corporate Office, Compliance and Government Relation, Peter Benny expressed concern that the information was reportedly presented to the media by the Private Sector Commission (PSC), adding that AGM is a corporate member of the Commission and made it clear that the information is untrue.

Moreover, Benny noted that the Commission did not make contact with AGM to clarify the reports.

With AGM restarting production in a phased manner under its new Chinese management, questions have been raised as to how many of the local, unionised staff who were previously made redundant will be rehired.

This publication had previously interviewed Benny, during which he had said that both unionised and non-unionised workers have been rehired and that the new management will seek to hire former employees as they expand operations.

He had said that AGM has so far 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% 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 had said.

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 had 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 had noted that former employees will continue to enjoy first preference, once they have the relevant skills.

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.