On a spot of Bolívar state, granite stones -never seen before in Guayana- have been discovered; and also, a mineral named coltan which is currently quite longed for by the National Government in company with Iran and Chinese allies
At the west end of Bolívar state, new mines of coltan, China clay and granite rocks have been confirmed. As a journalist having hot news or an archeologist who discovers archeological fossils, Geologist Noel Mariño celebrates his finding in Parguaza, of a mining potential able to transform the structure and jobsof that little spot in the Guaina Shield.
Through a series of research studies conducted by Mariño together with students and professionals from Universidad de Oriente (UDO, East University) and the basic industries from Guayana, in 2007, they started to discover granite deposits in a sector of Cedeño municipality, which they named Cerro Aislado.
Later on, they confirmed the existence of coltan deposits at hill Boquerones in sector Los Gallitos, and finally, last year, they found China clay on another spot which they labeled as Tierra Blanca.
Like explorers who stick their flags to deserted savannah, the group scanned several spots of the north frontier between Bolívar and Amazonas searching for the sector's treasures, and in order to clear all doubts; this month, they submitted their findings at the VI International Congress of Mining Technology.
There, before a panel composed by academicians, professionals and public figures gathered in Caracas; they disclosed that under a piece of land that stretches for no longer than 7,000 square kilometers to the western part of Bolívar, lies a variety of minerals never officially recorded before.
Warning that between Puerto Ayacucho and Caicara del Orinoco the coltan is in vogue is no more hot news. It is neither a surprise that in Bolívar state, new deposits of China clay or ornamental rocks like granite are found. However, Noel Mariño former manager of Bauxilum industry in 2003- highlighted on June 15, during the mining congress, that the sum of several investigations documented new mineral deposits. This could open a development hub right 80 kilometers far from the bauxite mines, which have been operated for 30 years around Pijiguaos area.
"We are speaking of a place filled with a very appealing potential for investing in it," he asserted. "It concerns an area which produces coltan, China clay, rare earth elements and some granite with yellow and green shades never seen before."
The Crown Jewels
The Government has already set the plans for this area. Although the Government has disclosed very little information relative to the subject, in October 2009, it developed an exploration project whose details were recorded in a document kept at the National Institute of Geology and Mining of Venezuela, Ingeomin.
Under the name of Plan for exploration of strategic minerals in the western areas of Bolívar state and northern areas of Amazonas state, the paper indicates that more than 253 million strong bolivars (USD 58 million) to explore and determine the reservoirs of strategic resources, and among them, finally get to discover the jewel of the crown: coltan. The blue gold of the 21st Century is in demand in the technology industry thanks to the conductivity that its components -columbite and tantalite- emanate in the construction of electrical condensers.
At this time; however, nobody knows the whereabouts of the government plan. Ingeomin had foreseen that the geological research studies would be done already and that the rest of the investigation would be completed by 2014. If they are currently developing it; however, it is in petit comité.
Although the efforts made to contact the technicians responsible for the project, no response was received either from Ingeomin or from the Vice-Ministry of Mines. The Government turns up its nose at every question concerning its mining politics, but it certainly has something going on in the southern area of the country. A few articles posted on the Internet and brief remarks aired on the official media have been warning that despite the little information provided, government authorities have not forgotten the new treasures that have been appearing in Guayana.
"We have agreed on working with our Iranian brothers in mining exploration," Minister for Basic Industries and Mining, José Khan, remarked last year. And as early as in 2009, technicians from that country took part in the layout of a Venezuelan mining map, according to the National Data Base of Geosciences of Iran.
China, for its part, will also search for Venezuelan coltan.Ingeomin's president Avilio Labarca announced in February of the current year that under the binational agreements, company Citic of that country will provide expertise and technology in explorations and geological surveys. "We are going to work initially on coltan, bauxite, iron and phosphate," he commented without revealing the places he referred to.
Now it is the Government's turn
President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez was the first to confirm the existence of a mineral deposit in the southern area of the country which portrays Venezuela in the honor roll as one of the wealthiest countries, owner of such valuable yet limited elements. "Now, a strategic mineral called coltan' has been discovered and we have placed a military barrier around it, because it was being smuggled to Colombia," he said on October 15, 2009.
The announcement quickly spread through the media but vanished equally quickly a few days after; since then, only reports about smuggling and isolated voices which ask for order in the jungle, have been in the spotlight.
Mariño, however, brought the topic out once again. At the VI International Congress of Mining Technology, he pictured the scene by revealing what is found in Parguaza: "We have detected coltan, rare earth elements, China clay and traces of other elements such as yttrium; these are minerals considered 'strategic' due to their shortage and because they will determine the technological growth of nations."
He does not know for sure the amount of minerals. However, Mariño's smile seems to reveal a different perspective. Mariño nodded his head when asked whether the deposits found in Cedeño municipality may be indeed an illusion. One way or the other, now more than never, it is the Government's turn to play. "The size of the deposits is to be measured, and what we wish to propose is that the Government does detail geology and finds the best way to develop the area," he concludes.
For its part Bauxilum documented that there are in the area seven types of granite which include "yellow gold," "green parguaza" and especially "green gold," a color they claim to be unique in Guayana.
Mariño and other professionals from the basic industries were entrusted in 2006 with continuing other studies that already hinted special granites surrounding the bauxite mines. That is how they ended up discovering a spectrum of new granites, whose samples are located in Caracas, at the Geology, Mines and Geophysics School of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV).
3,500 million years old
Based upon these grounds, Mariño reports that unlike the formations that date back 1,500 million years which lie around the research area, some of the samples discovered have similar characteristics as Imataca, which being 3,500 million years old- represents the oldest rocky formation of the national territory.
"If the analyses we have made are finally confirmed, Venezuela's geological history will have to be rewritten," Mariño asserts. "We are discovering metamorphic rocks surrounded by igneous (rocks); which as a result, leaves in evidence that this place is older than what they have previously stated."
Translated by Adrián Valera Villani
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Luis Jiménez Alfaro seems to have hidden under the rocks. The last time he was seen was on April 2006 walking calmly around Simón Bolívar International Airport of Maiquetía, located nearby Caracas. At that time, more than five tons of cocaine arrived in Mexico in an airplane which took off from Venezuela, and his name featured as a missing piece of the puzzle of one of the most massive drug shipments that has been witnessed in the Western Hemisphere.