31st Jan 2019
A major shakeup is continuing at the country’s biggest gold mining operations.
According to the Guyana Goldfields Inc. yesterday, it has reduced the expatriate workforce by some 30 percent with long-serving Country Manager, Violet Smith, being replaced.
The moves would come as the company gets ready for a special meeting on May 22, next. A number of shareholders have been demanding the current board be replaced after the Canadian company lost C’dn$1B in value during the past year.
Those shareholders, including former chief and founder, Patrick Sheridan, are claiming that the company is being mismanaged and that new blood is needed.
According to the company yesterday, as part of the ongoing restructuring program launched on July 30, 2018 to its local operations, it has promoted 60 Guyanese nationals into senior roles.
One of the jobs went to Jermaine Critchlow, who is the Sustainability Manager for Guyana; a role previously held by an expatriate. Former media worker, Miranda LaRose, has been appointed as Corporate Social Responsibility/Sustainability Coordinator for Guyana. “In addition to realizing operational efficiencies, the Company expects these changes and the new local leadership will further strengthen its presence in Guyana and its good relationship with the government.”
The company explained that as part of the restructuring, it has reduced its expatriate workforce by 14, representing approximately 30% of the total expatriate staff.
Total employment post-restructuring consists of 729 Guyanese nationals (representing approximately 96.4% of the overall workforce) and 27 expatriates. The company said yesterday that it is one of the largest employers in Guyana.
“These transformational changes, which are consistent with our Aurora Gold Mine strategic plan established last summer, will strengthen our presence in Guyana and further enhance our operations,” said Scott Caldwell, President and Chief Executive Officer.
“These restructuring efforts complement recent initiatives undertaken to strengthen all of Guyana’s Goldfields and Aurora Gold Mine’s activities in Georgetown will be managed out of a single office in the country, which will increase synergies and efficiencies while reducing costs.
The second office located at North Road will be closed effective immediately. As part of the restructuring, Country Manager Violet Smith is leaving the Company, as her position has become redundant. The company, however, says that it will likely retain Smith in a consultative position.The company had announced on January 3, 2019, that Perry Holloway has been appointed Senior Vice President, Strategy & Corporate Affairs.
Holloway, who recently retired as US Ambassador to Guyana, has assumed responsibility for all activities involving Government relations in Guyana, as well as corporate social responsibility. He will also provide assistance on key in-country management issues as needed.
During the second half of 2018, management made a strategic decision to refocus exploration efforts on the high quality near-mine brownfield targets that will potentially provide the greatest opportunities for near term growth.
This resulted in the net reduction in the total exploration team of 45 employees (of which seven were expatriate geologists), as the Company temporarily closed distant field camps at Iroma, Wynamu and Arangoy, which have been placed on care and maintenance.
The company said it intends to resume its greenfields exploration in the first half of 2019.
“As part of the restructuring efforts to focus on brownfields exploration, the 7 expatriate geologists were replaced with 2 new expatriate hires. The remaining 32 members of the exploration team are Guyanese nationals (94%) in keeping with the Company’s commitment to source skilled local employment. The team consists of 7 geologists, one data technician, 12 core technicians, and 14 drill contractors. For the 2019 campaign, the Company expects to hire an additional three geologists, six technicians and two data clerks.”
Goldfields also said that it has appointed a Guyanese national, Boaz Wade, as Exploration Leader effective January 1, 2019. They have reportedly also retained leading commercial firm, London House Chambers headed by Devindra Kissoon as their counsel.
“Under Mr. Wade’s direction, the company has already made considerable advances in the appreciation of the geology and gold mineralization at the Aurora Gold Mine.”
The Aurora mines contributed over 150,000 ounces last year in production, remaining the largest single private producer.