The controversial Omai gold mine, which began operations after a six- month shut down, has drawn4p plans to increase its gold output by 24,000 ounces by the end of this year. Next year, its target is to achieve an output of 30,000 ounces. The increased production is being attributed to more ore reserves - while it was estimated to be 41 million tonnes (t) a year, it has now been revised to 64 million t.
The mine opened after strict environmental controls came into being following a cyanide spill in August '95, which had forced it to close shop. The new environmental, controls include a hydrogen peroxide plant which will mitigate the cyanide concentration in the tailings before its discharge into the Omai and Essequibo rivers. According to Cambior and Golden Star, the Canada-based owners of the mine, a new tailings pond covering an area of 211 ha is also being built. This pond will be five times larger than the one that burst last year. However, "all measures are being taken to ensure its safe and environmentally sound operations", according to sources at Cambior. The life-span of the mine has also been extended from 10 to 12 years.