Community favours proposed development - EIA

Stabroek News
May 15, 2001

The Bonasika Mine Development Project has received support from the community likely to receive the greatest impact from its development, according to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) recently completed.

The EIA stated that the project would have the greatest impact on communities within 20 miles of the properties to be developed. These would include Bartica, Timehri, Sand Hills and Bonasika. Of these, the project would have the most bearing on Sand Hills.

The EIA said the social baseline developed showed that the Sand Hills community consisted of 20 families and had a total population of about 200.

According to the study, many of the families lived below the poverty line and their primary occupations were listed as logging, hunting and subsistence farming.

According to the EIA, the community was supportive of the project. It listed the availability of jobs and related improvement in the community services, service industries and community well-being as being welcomed. However, the community expressed concern about the associated environmental impacts and wanted to be sure they would be addressed.

The Bonasika Mine Development Project was proposed by Guyana Industrial Minerals (GINMIN) whose chairman is former Golden Stars Resources Ltd executive Hilbert Shields. The secretary of the company is his wife Diana Shields.

GINMIN has proposed to exploit bauxite and other industrial minerals in Guyana. The company has applied for a mining licence to develop property which is located on the right bank of the Essequibo River, upriver from Bartica.

The licence will be to develop Bonasika 1, Bonasika 2 and Bonasika 3 properties. The project comprises three components: the wharf complex, the access road, and the mine site. The operation will entail the mining of bauxite ore at the mine site which will be transported to the wharf complex about 18 kilometres away along the access road.

The EIA stated that GINMIN has proposed to develop Bonasika 1 first. The proposed mining rate and cut and fill method will exhaust this deposit in eight years.

From the EIA, it was anticipated that one of the smaller creeks in the area would have to be re-routed to facilitate mine development. The topography of the site would be lowered by about three metres.

According to the EIA, part of the reclamation plan was to regrade the site to effect good drainage and to redistribute stockpiled top soil to create vegetative growth.

The proposed access road should be approximately 24 kilometres long, four metres wide and have two-metre shoulders. The EIA stated that about 60 per cent of the alignment was being developed from existing logging trails. The remainder would be constructed through uncleared forest.

A four-metre wide wooden bridge was proposed to be constructed where the road met the Waratilla River.

The wharf complex will be located just north of the Sand Hills community on the east bank of the Demerara river. The wharf complex will have a stockpile area, crusher, loader and wharf, administrative offices and staff housing. The housing and offices will be developed from existing houses. The site preparation will include extensive grading and site clearing.

The EIA said it was anticipated that most of the workers will be recruited from the Sand Hills community.

A physical baseline study of the site found there was minor physical degradation and this was attributed to logging, logging road and human occupation.

The EIA found that impacts associated with the construction and operation of the wharf complex could potentially affect air and water quality at neighbouring creeks. Fuel spills could also have similar impacts.