EYEWITNESS: Getting back on stream… with manganese

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You’ll be able to place your Eyewitness chronologically when he tells you he remembers when manganese was being shipped from the Northwest District – and Matthews Ridge was like a boom town. When last did you hear about NW District?! It’s now Region 1! Of course, one doesn’t really ship MANGANESE from out of the ground – but its ore, which is manganese oxide. It has to be purified to deliver the manganese, which is a metal. Just like bauxite, thank you!!

He remembers it was some American company that did the mining, starting in the 1960s.

But when the bottom fell out of the manganese market in the late 1970s, the company up and left!! Unlike with Bauxite, Burnham hadn’t nationalised the operations in the 1970s. It’s those old mines that had collected batshit for decades that had killed some workers a few years back, when the mining was resuming.

Manganese is used in the conversion of iron into steel, and so one hopes steel production holds up, and we don’t get stuck with just huge craters in the ground!! Permission for 7 open mining pits has been given, along with 10 waste dumps. Kinda the story of our lives, no?? Furriners come in, dig our gold, diamonds, bauxite and manganese, and we get holes in the ground. All of this rumination about manganese was brought on, of course, by the news that after a fifty-year hiatus, we’ll be shipping the ore again.

Well…not really “we”, but the Chinese company Bosai, that’s already mining our bauxite. There’d been a Canadian company that had gotten the mining permits, but, after a while, they sold it out to the Chinese. Guess it’s like “flipping” in real estate!! You step in…buy cheap, hype the product, then sell dear!!

OK…we’ll hear about the taxes Bosai’s gonna pay, and the employment it’ll create…but is that all we’ll ever do?? When will we get to a point where we’re stop being a “primary” producer and start adding value and make the big bucks? Just like refining and smelting bauxite to aluminum, manganese production demands huge quantities of electricity. But aren’t we gonna have this electricity with AFHEP and the gas-to-shore generating plant coming on stream??

Maybe we can run some of that gas from the Stabroek oil fields direct to Matthews Ridge, and insist that Bosai builds a smelting plant?? We might just generate enough economic activity to catalyse economic development there!!

On another note, just as President Ali’s proposed Silica City to prepare us for our coastal plain’s inundation, Burnham had suggested moving our capital to NWDistrict.

But with him, unlike with Ali, it was always all talk!!

…at Uitvlugt

Returning to your Eyewitness’s callow youth, “Uitvlugt” was one of those “hard words” that teachers would spring on hapless (and unsuspecting) youths for them to spell. Well, after Granger took out his spite (and bile) on sugar workers, some thought Uitvlugt had been spared when Wales was closed. But we’re slowly discovering that Uitvlugt might be slowly twisting in the wind, after being hung out to dry!!

Now let’s pick sense from nonsense. There was a time when this estate was regularly producing 25,000 tons a year. So now that it has even picked up some workers from the shuttered Wales and maintained its acreage, shouldn’t it be producing more sugar? But, right now, its target is not even half of that. And it can’t even meet that! For months, the estate had to be shuttered, and will remain so for the entire crop, because of some missing part from a roller.

Is Uitvlugt being set up for a fall? Will the workers get their bonus? Missing the target ain’t their fault!

…with art

There’s been some wrangling in the papers about the Govt ejecting some sculpture by a local artist depicting “unity”. Abstract art flies over your Eyewitness’s head. Could the artist explain what’s unifying about the squiggles?