The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) is testing technologies that will reduce the environmental footprint of mining while improving recovery rates for miners.
The Mineral Processing Unit of the GGMC has been reviewing and testing alternatives to existing methods. These technologies are aimed at reducing the dependence on mercury in the extraction of the minerals, particularly gold.
Acting Commissioner of the GGMC, Newell Dennison
Acting Commissioner of the GGMC, Newell Dennison, told the Government Information Agency (GINA), in a recent interview, that technologies such as “circuits that have chemical and floatation requisites and cyanide circuits are all options being explored.” He said however, that the options are not readily available to every type of miner in the six mining districts across Guyana.
According to Dennison, officers of the GGMC are working in specific areas to introduce the technologies. “hey go to the miners in those districts, do testing to help them understand what kind of circuits can be applicable, what kind of methods they should be using in treating the material; washing it or separating, sifting, crushing, which lend to the process of extraction of the materials,” Dennison explained.
Noting that the technologies have been around, Dennison said the GGMC is adapting existing technologies to local situations.
The GGMC is currently in a ‘training of trainers’ stage of this exploration and has been collaborating with international agencies. Earlier this year, the GGMC benefited from training and demonstrations on these technologies from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI).
GGMC, Senior Environment Officer, Darcy Walrond, told GINa that earlier this year, the Commission was at Mahdia doing demonstrations where they used gold catcher which are all mercury free technologies.
The technologies being examined are expected to significantly reduce the use of mercury in mining. Guyana signed onto the Minamata Convention on Mercury in 2013 in Japan. The Convention is an international pact to protect the environment and health from the adverse effects of mercury.
More importantly, these technologies are expected to significantly improve the recovery rates of the mined mineral. Small to medium scale miners have been calling on the GGMC to provide the technical assistance in improving recovery rates. Currently, the recovery rate is 30 to 40 percent.
“With improved technologies you have improved recovery rates and when you have much higher recover rates then the use of mercury would dramatically reduce,” Walrond explained to GINA.
These initiatives are part of the GGMC’s Action Plan aimed at modernising the mining sector. The Action Plan received approval from the Board of Directors of the GGMC in September and it is being implemented in phases.