Guyana Goldfields to terminate large number of employees

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Aurora Gold Mines (Guyana Goldfields)

The Guyana Goldfields Inc. has made a decision to terminate the services of a large number of its  employees due to a range of challenges facing the company.

The reduction in workforce is expected to take place between mid-May 2020 and end of June 2020, according to letter sent to the employees that was seen by INews.

While it is unclear the exact number of employees who will be affected, INews understands that this could be close to two hundred.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Alan Pangbourne assured those that will be affected that the provisions of the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act will apply.

“Today, with great regret I am writing to all employees to inform you that we will be reducing the size of AGM’s workforce. This reduction in the workforce will take place at all levels including both national and expatriate employees as the company will transition its mining operation into a state of Care and Maintenance for an undetermined period,” the CEO’s letter to employees stated.

Just a few days ago, there was an announcement that Canadian silver miner, Silvercorp took over the company.

Following is the CEO’s letter to employees: 

As you all know, Aurora mine site is going through a business transformation as we transition from open pit mining to underground mining. A series of events mentioned in our public press releases over the past few months, will not allow us to proceed with this transition without an interruption in our operations at the Aurora Mine site.

Today, with great regret I am writing to all employees to inform you that we will be reducing the size of AGM’s workforce. This reduction in the workforce will take place at all levels including both national and expatriate employees as the company will transition its mining operation into a state of Care and Maintenance for an undetermined period. The reason our timeline is undetermined is because it depends on multiple variable factors. These factors include financial conditions, COVID-19 issues, travel restrictions, and pending approval from Guyana’s EPA of our Revised Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) permit for underground mining. Let me share with you the details of how we arrived at this difficult decision.

The upcoming changes are primarily due to the following reasons:

– Our inability to mine safely both RK5 & RK4 concurrently

– An anticipated ore shortage from our open pits resulting in a loss of our income stream,

– Lack of funding to recommence RK5 and re-establish continuous ore supply, and

– The continued negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which forced us to stop underground development.

These reasons have unfortunately made it impossible to ensure business continuity and therefore, we have reached the point where we need to institute manpower adjustments. Our mining operations at the Aurora Mine site will be interrupted and will require some downtime to transition from open pit to underground mining, which is the future of the Aurora mine.

2 What does that mean for AGM employees?

As a result, the company will follow the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act and will make those positions which are no longer needed redundant. Those of you affected will be paid their statutory notice period and severance entitlements in keeping with the Act. This will include recognition of your years of service with AGM, as applicable. We will ensure that each of you will be treated in a respectful and thoughtful manner.

We will communicate with you again later this week to advise you of the timing and positions impacted.

The reduction in workforce is expected to take place between mid-May 2020 and end of June 2020 . This upcoming timeline is driven by the completion of mining and milling activities, and subsequent  preparation requirements for transitioning the Aurora mine site into Care and Maintenance status. Some of you will be asked to continue with AGM during the Care and Maintenance period.

Please know that this was a very difficult decision to make and we are aware that it will have a severe impact on those of you to be affected, but unfortunately there is no other option available to us at this time. We hope that the company will be able to begin underground mining and resume operations as soon as possible.

Please also ensure that your personal contact details are up to date with HR as we will be handing a complete employee list to Silvercorp so that as they need employees after the COVID 19 pandemic is controlled and their plans are clear they will be able to contact you, if required.