During our visit, we were lucky to see the many types of Guyana's industry first-hand.
Above left is Blairmont Sugar Estate factory, part of the Guysuco company. Click here to learn more about the Guysuco company.
Grandpa Buddy started working at Blairmont factory when he was 17 years old, and spent more than 15 years under it's employment. Buddy still has friends and relatives at the plant. We enjoyed a complete plant tour, from the beginning where sugar cane is crushed, to the end where processed sugar is bagged. The cane enters from a giant lift and is dumped into a crusher that squeezes out cane juice. Workers burn the crushed cane to power the factory's boiler. The juice is filtered and clarified. Then, the juice is boiled under vacuum assist to pull-out the water. The resulting concentrated syrup is then crystallized into a slurry. A centrifuge spins molasses out of the slurry and leaves behind light brown sugar crystals. The crystals are dried and bagged. On the upper right, is a plantation canal. Sluices along the coast control the water level in the canals. Cane is transported to the factory on canals in boats called "punts." Workers, cattle, or sometimes tractors haul the punts along the canal. The special punt in the picture on the right above is covered for transporting cane cutters or field workers. Field workers inspect, sample, or spray chemicals.
On the upper left, you see burning cane. Cane is burnt just prior to harvesting to reduce the undergrowth and reduce the moisture content. Burning requires a precise, but risky plan that takes weather into account. The field manager only wants to burn the cane that's ready for harvesting! In the picture on the upper right, you see cane cutters loading punts from a burnt field. The cutters will cut a bundle of cane and then carry it on their heads to the punt. A team of two cutters fill a punt. Notice the number on the punt. The pay master knows the cutters by the punt number. When the punt is full, it's returned to the factory and weighed. The cutters are paid by weight.
On the upper left is the Kayman Sankar rice mill located adjacent to the Blairmont Estate. Unlike the sugar factory, the rice mill is privately owned and operated. "Paddy" rice is harvested from the wet fields with big farm machinery and hauled to the mill. This factory processes rice from about 10,000 acres in the surrounding area. An acre produces about 30 bags (100 pounds per bag) of rice per harvest. The rice plant can process up to 500 bags per hour. The mill dries the paddy and removes the husks. The husks are burned to power the mill. The picture on the right shows the steam-engine fly wheels from the mill's power plant. The steam engines were built in Brazil during the 1930s. After drying, the rice is "polished" in a machine that separates out the dust, or "bran." This provides plain white rice. The truck in the picture on the left above shows 1-ton bags of rice ready for delivery for overseas shipment. Some of the rice is held back and "parboiled" and dried a second time, frequently in the sun. Parboiled rice is a more expensive grade.
On the left above, the mill workers are filling bags of white rice at the output of the polishing machine. On the right, tractors are maintained in the field work-shop.
Above is a bauxite refining factory. Bauxite is mined along the Berbice river and shipped to the refiners. The refining factory sifts-out the dirt and dust and crushes the bauxite to a uniform size for the aluminum factory. The dirt and dust, or "tailings," are piled high and then distributed to cover dirt roads in the country. Bauxite tailings typically aren't used for city roads because it's so dusty and prone to pot-holes. The refined bauxite is shipped by boats to overseas aluminum factories. The refinery was originally located where the Berbice River was deep enough to receive the ocean vessels. However, the Berbice River has become much shallower because of top soil erosion. Now days, shallow barges carry the refined bauxite to an intermediate loading point in deeper water.
Above a small ship delivering white sand to a construction site. The sand is used to mix cement. The ship is aground at the time of this picture, but will float when the tide is high. The picture was taken standing near a sluice that was open and dumping water from fields into the river. This fast running water carries silt and top soil into the river making it increasingly shallow. There are no sandy beaches where these rivers meet the ocean, only a muddy tidal flat.
The above left is a saw mill. The saw mill uses a large round blade powered by a diesel engine. It's easily setup and moved to the location of fresh trees. Logs and finished wood is typically shipped by water. On the right above is a large stack of tropical hardwood waiting for delivery.