Merian, Suriname – South America

In early June I had to visit our newest site in Newmont located in Suriname, South America. Sitting next to Guyana and French Guiana, Suriname is the smallest country in South America, even though French Guiana is but it is actually part of France. The trip to get there takes just on 2 days with four flight changes and a hotel stay at either end. After driving to Salt Lake City and staying overnight, it was an early flight to Dallas Fort Worth for a plane change to Miami, Florida. From there I had to change to an international flight with Surinam Airways which required checking in all over again. There was a huge queue when I arrived as the flight the previous day had been cancelled. After lining up for 20 minutes I decided to try the business class line as we were flying business class for most of the trip, just not this leg. After being served with no questions as to why I was using that line, it was through security for a 2.5 hour wait in the lounge. Of course the flight was delayed (someone said they’ve never had a flight depart on time in several years) which meant we were going to get into Paramaribo very late as the plane makes a scheduled stop to drop off and pick up passengers in Guyana.

After finally taking up the pilot apologised for the delay and said he’d try to make up time. We arrived in Georgetown, Guyana at just after midnight and took off about 40 minutes later. With the one hour time difference with Paramaribo I was now looking at a 2am arrival. Getting through immigration and receiving our visa took another hour, as did the drive from the airport to the hotel. I finally arrived at the hotel just before 5am and checked in for 5 hours sleep as the bus to site leaves at 12 midday. Just when you thought all the travelling was over, the bus trip took 5 hours mainly due to the condition of the dirt road. It’s shared with logging trucks that chew up the road, not helped by the several meters of rain they get in the wet season.

I finally arrive at site just before dinner, got my room key, dropped my bags off and headed to dinner. Here I was able to meet up with several people I worked with at Boddington so we had a mini reunion and caught up with what we had all been doing over the years.

The weather at Merian is similar to that of Indonesia – about 32 degrees each day and 90% humidity. It rains most days with May having 2 meters of rain. You can imagine what this does to the haul roads and conditions in general.

The next few days was spent working with various people at the mine to implement a new process we are now doing remotely from Elko. Most of the discussions were around change management and how the process would be different. The few days on site went quick and before I knew it it was time to do the travel all again. This time the route was slightly different with the flight from Paramaribo going to Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, then direct to JFK in New York. From there it was a flight to Salt Lake City, an overnight stay in the hotel, and then the drive back to Elko. Another 2 days all up from the time you left site to arriving home.

Today is the 4th of July, Independence Day. The BBQs and flags are out in force with fireworks planned later tonight. We’re having ribs smoked on the BBQ for dinner and might just squeeze in some fireworks before bed.

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