The Guiana Shield is a large geological formation in northeast South America that is rich in minerals such as gold, diamonds, and bauxite. Gold is the most important resource mined in the area. The Guiana Shield crosses Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Venezuela, Columbia, and Brazil. Approximately 12% of the Guiana Shield region in under mining concessions, the majority of which are in Guyana and Suriname. The Guiana Shield recruitment statistics indicate approximately 200,000 people are employed directly and indirectly in the mining sector. Much of the mining is small scale, unregulated and informal.
Mining in the area has been somewhat controversial due to the negative impact it has had on the environment. The use of mercury in particular has caused widespread pollution of rivers and other water sources. Mercury is used to separate the gold from ore, but the wastes products are released into water sources contaminating fish, aquatic life and posing a risk to human health. Mining has also encroached on the territories of indigenous people resulting in conflict over land use. In response to concerns relating to these issues, there have been significant efforts by the governments of various countries impacted to promote sustainable and responsible mining practices to the Guiana Shield. There have been efforts to reduce the amount of mercury used in gold mining and improve the process of monitoring and remediating environmental damage.
Companies have also increased engagement with indigenous communities to reach consensus on rights and interests. Social programs in local communities to promote education and economic development have also been initiated. I
Investments in education, training programs, health services and infrastructure development have helped bridge the divide between locals and mining companies. Despite the negative impacts, mining has also brought significant economic benefits to the region providing employment opportunities and revenue.
As Guiana Shield mining jobs are formalised into a structured mining sector, job opportunities in management and executive positions have become available.