The Guyana Gold Board (GGB) assures that the highest safety measure will be taken in the burning of gold at its new facility.
GGB’s new Crown Street office is currently being retrofitted to install new mercury control equipment and a laboratory that meets occupational health and safety standards for the burning of gold, General Manager, Eondrene Thompson, recently told the Department of Public Information (DPI).
The equipment, which was vetted by a Pan American Health Organisation/ World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) team, will be live tested during the course of this week, Thompson said.
The equipment is meant to extract mercury-laced air from the burning room, clean it through a two-tiered process before releasing mercury free air through a chimney.
Thompson added the GGB will ensure stricter vigilance in ensuring that personal protective equipment (PPE) is used at all times by staff and twice daily readings from the mercury control system are done.
“I am very confident that this will work because the daily checks will be in place, the equipment to ensure that if there is any emission it will give the indication and we will immediately stop burning.”
The GGB has also been meeting with residents around the facility to personally give assurances. “I will never ever want this any mercury emission to be affecting this community,” Thompson stressed.
The Gold Board ceased burning gold at its Brickdam complex back in April following higher than expected mercury emissions rendering many employees attached to the facility ill. The opposition has also called for an investigation into the deaths of four Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) staffers who they said were documented with mercury poison.
According to the DPI, the site has been successfully cleaned and a PAHO/WHO team found no threatening levels of mercury remaining.
The GGB continues to utilise the services of one of its dealers in the burning of gold until the new facility comes online. Thompson said that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Labour will be evaluating and signing off on the new facility to ensure safety and other measures are met.
The GGB will also be putting systems in place to ensure that clients can observe the burning of gold without being in the burning room. This is according to a recommendation by the PAHO/WHO team, Thompson explained.