PNG investor eyes Gold Ridge mine

Locals walk through the Gold Ridge mine in 2003

Photographer: Torsten Blackwood/AFP via Getty Images

Solomon Star

A Papua New Guinea investor is reportedly eying to purchase the Gold Ridge mine in central Guadalcanal, and create a joint venture with landowners. Australian firm St Barbara is the current owner.

The mine was closed since April last year in the wake of the flash floods that hit Guadalcanal and Honiara.

It has not resume operation since and St Barbara now intends to sell the facility.

Head of Resource Policy in the Office of the Prime Minister Dr Christopher Vehe Sagapoa told Radio New Zealand International a PNG investor has shown interest in the mine.

“There is an investor from Papua New Guinea that is coming in to try and create a joint venture with the landowners to purchase the mine from St Barbara,” Sagapoa said.

“It hasn’t come to our knowledge how they have progressed with their arrangements and the government is not in the arrangements,” he added.

The last Lilo government had been negotiating with St Barbara for a possible transfer of ownership of the Gold Ridge mine to the Government.

However, the Sogavare government has already stated it has no intention to take over the mine.

Instead, it said it supported any moves for landowners to become joint ventures in the project.

The chairman of the Gold Ridge Community and Land Owners Association, Dick Douglas, has told Radio New International they are working with St Barbara and the national government to effect a transfer of ownership to Gold Ridge landowners.

“We need to participate fully in this development, we need to have the benefit out of our own resources,” Douglas said.

“And that is the government’s policy. Rather than we sit down and watch.

“And our vision is to get everything and then get all other aspects that the development within the industry,” he said.

Douglas added he hopes their efforts pave the way for other land-owning groups in Solomon Islands to take ownership of and develop their own resources.

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Filed under Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands

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