The curtains have finally come down on the operations of Omai Gold Mines Limited following the announcement of a detailed closure plan for the OMAI mine site, which has been agreed to by OMAI, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It is envisaged that all environmental and other activities at the OMAI mine site would be completed by the end of September 2008.

The release said OMAI has given notice of its intention to "terminate the mineral agreement and voluntarily relinquish its mining licence with effect from October 1, 2008 to which the GGMC and EPA have agreed.

"The EPA confirms that, generally, OMAI Gold Mines Limited has complied with the identified limits and other environmental requirements of the EPA, and that the company's compliance was consistent with its ISO 14001 certification for environmental management," the release added.

The closure plan at the request of the government has been changed from "back to nature" to an "after use" of the OMAI mine site. The infrastructure, which includes internal roadways, landing barrage, airport, access roads, power plant and camp site facilities will, however, be retained.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who is also the minister responsible for mining, was quoted in the release as saying that the government, consistent with the after-use option for the OMAI site is inviting other mining companies to re-evaluate its underground mining possibilities.

The Prime Minister reiterated government's policy of foreign-direct investment but also welcomes responsible mining which facilitates successful large scale operations in Guyana.

The GGMC also acknowledges the operations of OMAI noting that regulations provide a framework for the operation of gold mining in compliance with international standards.

"The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission notes the long gestation period associated with birthing large scale operations and challenges all exploration companies to stay on course with their field activities."

The release added that although OMAI departs with dignity it looks forward to other interventions such as pursuing prospecting activities at Eagle Mountain and has been reviewing other prospects in Guyana.

The relinquishing of the company's operations is considered closure to an important chapter in the life of gold mining in Guyana.

Among the highlights of OMAI's operations in Guyana is the spearheading of the first large sca{jcomments off}le cyanide extraction operation in 1993 with the opening of the mine by the late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan.

Among its other success stories was the accomplishment of producing approximately 3.8 million ounces of gold from operations in 2005. The company's contribution to gold mining operations in Guyana is considered by the government as sterling.

Published in The People's Paper Weekend Mirror, Georgetown, Guyana, in the edition of 12-13 April 2008. Click here to go to their website.