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Guyana awards large mining, airport deals

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[November 21, 2011]  GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) -- Guyana has signed a $1 billion agreement with a Canadian-based company for what the government says is the largest private mining investment for the South America country.

Toronto-based Guyana Goldfields Inc. said the Aurora Gold Project agreement signed Friday is the first large-scale gold mining license that Guyana has issued since 1991.

The government said it is expected to create more than 1,900 temporary and permanent jobs and Guyana Goldfields CEO Patrick Sheridan said it is expected to generate $1.6 billion in government revenues at a time of record gold prices.

The company announcement said it will pay a mining royalty of 5 percent when gold sells for $1,000 an ounce and 8 percent when the price is greater. It will also pay a corporate income tax of 30 percent.

The agreement is for 20 years, with provisions for extension.

The company said construction should start early next year and the mine and mill should be operating by early 2014.

Guyana's government on Friday also announced a $138 million contract with the Beijing-based China Harbor Engineering Co. to build a new airport terminal and add more than 3,200 feet (1,000 meters) to the main runway at the country's principal airport, Cheddi Jagan International.

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The current 7,400-foot (2,255-meter) runway cannot accommodate fully loaded jumbo jets. A Caribbean Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft that landed late on the runway on July 20 crashed through a fence, breaking in two. No one died.

The two deals come just ahead of Nov. 28 parliamentary elections, and the main opposition coalition complained the airport deal should have been debated by the legislature.

Rupert Roopnarine, the prime ministerial candidate of the Partnership For National Unity, criticized the government for making the deal after Parliament was dissolved for the general election.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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