Copyright © 2000 International Development Options
All Rights Reserved
Volume Two Winter 1999-Spring 2000 Numbers 1-2.
THEME: CARIBBEAN DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES: ISSUES AND OPTIONS
THE IMPACT OF GOLD, DIAMOND AND BAUXITE PRODUCTION ON THE GUYANESE ECONOMY,
Barbara P. Josiah
Department of History
Washington, DC 20059
Published Online: December 15, 2016
In the context of Guyana's economic development, the coming of the gold, diamond, and bauxite industries promoted economic diversification. This article examines the role of African Guyanese villagers and coastal dwellers who seasonally migrated to hinterland localities and worked in the gold and diamond industries from the late nineteenth century; bauxite workers, their counterparts of the twentieth century, are also discussed. The article argues that colonial administrators recognized the value of this labor at a time when the country's main agricultural export product, sugar, was fetching a low price on the world market. The diversification of the country's economy was critical. Consequently, profitable returns from the mining industry promoted action by the government to liberalize land acquisition laws. The resulting increased access to land by workers and investors enabled not only the diversification of the Guyana's economy, but also impacted on the infrastructure and national development. This article documents that over a period spanning more than six decades, former agricultural workers braved human and ecologically hostile environments, endured myriad adversities, and developed the gold, diamond and bauxite industries. These developments facilitated the diversification of the economy, significantly affected national development, and the generation of profits for the British economy.