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Chinese company loses millions as protest continues in Guyana

Published:Wednesday | August 8, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Guyanese protesters demonstrate against the high cost of electricity.

The Chinese-owned Bosai Minerals Group Guyana Incorporated (BMGGI) says it is losing millions of dollars as it is unable to fulfil its international obligations as a result of the protest action that has virtually shut down the mining town of Linden.

"We are not producing nothing so we can't ship nothing. In other words, we can't sell nothing," the company's community relations assistant officer, Vanessa Davis told the Guyana Times newspaper on Tuesday.

Linden has been hit by protest action after residents there took to the streets to demand that the Donald Ramotar government reverse a decision to increase electricity rates and cut the estimated $3 billion (One Guyana Dollar =US$0.004 cents) subsidy to the Linden Electricity Company Incorporated (LECI) by one third.

In addition, the bauxite pensioners say they no longer enjoy 300 kilowatt-hours free electricity but will be provided 50 KWh free and have been told they would have to pay for the remainder at existing market rates for other customers.

Protesters killed

At least three protesters were shot and killed during clashes with the police on July 18. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has condemned the killings and the government has promised a commission of inquiry into the matter.

Davis said that the company, which in March this year announced plans to inject US$200 million into expanding its operations, was only able to ship bauxite two weeks ago.

"The last ship came about two weekends ago and we didn't even have a full shipment," she said, noting that it was possible that the company would not be able to make any more shipments until Linden returns to normal.

Market being hampered

"This is not a normal business where you shop when you need stuff. The company had to market its product for a year and had to sign a contract. So, yes, the market is being hampered," said Davis.

Meanwhile, a Government Information Agency (GINA) statement said that miners and suppliers as well as leaders of Amerindian village near Linden have expressed concerns about the impact of the protest action on their livelihoods.

"They pointed out that their operations have been on standstill for over three weeks and are facing burdens amounting to millions of dollars. Some complained that their assets were also destroyed by those manning blockades. Others were also threatened or harassed. They further complained that they cannot ply their trade to service mining, forest and other vulnerable communities that depend on supplies from the coast land,' GINA added.