Guyana is known across the Caribbean and in the international sphere, historically, as an agriculture powerhouse with sugar and rice, and coconuts charts.
In recent years, with the exponential oil discoveries and extraction, the Land Of Many Waters is now being recognised as an emerging oil and gas giant. Then there’s mining. This is one of Guyana’s other traditional industries, which is represented by the colour “yellow” on the Golden Arrowhead.
Today, mining in the country's interior regions is still lucrative and is a job sought by many young men across the country. With Guyana being sectioned into 10 administrative regions, and it's interior locations are found in Regions One (Barima-Waini), Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and Region Ten (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
Guyana's highlands in Region Eight is rich in gold, silver and other precious and semiprecious minerals, while diamonds are pulled from the powerful Potaro River, enriching those have mining operations. The stories of a big pay check continue to attract many young men into the backdams, such as Omodele Williams who left for the interior at age 25, almost two decades ago, in search of a better life.
"I used to you know, work construction and whatever work they got just to mek sure you survive. As a young man you gah experiment. You do yah lil construction work, you knocking about but that ain't enough. So, you hear about the bush and come transition here to see how could make it."
Omodele agrees that life as a miner is good but it's not without challenges. Gold is not always found in large quantities which determines his pay check.
"We get challenges with the rainy weather because camps does flood out only recently two camps cover down. So, we get challenges with the rain and flood and it affect you. It rainy season it does be tough."
However, Omodele found an innovative way to still obtain gold and provide for his family. He would collect small rocks suspected of containing gold and would grind them manually.
He would collect these rocks from friendly large scale miners and process them before gathering the gold for sale. But, it is hard work.
"These rocks does come out of a stringer pit and when it come out from a stringer pit, it done pass through a system where they done extract most of the big gold off. So, the fine gold now on the rocks they would give it away. All I gah do now, is bring it home, put it on fire and parch it. When When done parch, I does put it in a morter and pound it before sifting the dust."
Omodele’s next move is to add mercury to the dust, or what locals call 'quick-silver' or 'silver.' This element would magnetise the gold, making it ready for sale.
On a 'good' day he could earn above $60,000 by manually grinding the rocks for gold in his yard. He believes the 'bush' presents many opportunities.
When Omodele left his North Ruimveldt home he was a boy, but was groomed into a man in Guyana's interior. At age 42, He is a proud father of three.
"All my children them come from in the Bush because when I left town, me ain't had children and all three of them conceived on the Bush. The youngest is six years old and the eldest 10 years old."
The well experienced miner is encouraging youths in Georgetown to follow his footsteps and seek employment in Guyana's mineral rich interior.
"If you know of deh in town and the situation ain't suit you and you deh knocking about, just come in the bush and you know you could get to rest down your head, you could get to do mining and save your money."