Owners say Solomons mine is an environmental disaster

The new owner of Solomon Islands Gold Ridge gold mine claims the previous owner left behind a US$29 million dollar environmental disaster

The new owner of Solomon Islands Gold Ridge gold mine claims the previous owner left behind a US$29 million dollar environmental disaster

Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand

The new owner of Solomon Islands Gold Ridge gold mine claims the previous owner left behind a $US29 million dollar environmental disaster.

It says Melbourne’s St Barbara should have been shut down by Australian regulators long before it negotiated the AUD$100 May sale to Gold Ridge Community Investments ltd.

The Chairperson of GCIL Walton Naezon spoke with Koroi Hawkins about his company’s inherited liability.

WALTON NAEZON: If St Barbara was operating in Australia or Gold Ridge is in Australia, St Barbara would have left 40 million Aussie dollars for environmental clean up. So that is what they say in their reports and I acknowledge that and I was actually trying to say that that is what St Barbara left in this country, the mess of 40 million Aussie for environmental issues.

KOROI HAWKINS: And did you call or did you say that in light of this that St Barbara should be closed by the relevant regulatory authorities in Australia?

WN: Well that is a bit, that was supposed to be done by previous governments who actually deal with St Barbara. We actually bought the company out of St Barbara and all we say is that you took with you the liability as I understand. But what I am saying is that okay, but that is the cost of the liability I took.

KH: Right, so you are not saying you are not calling for their closure?

WN: Well the closure was supposed to be done prior to us taking over I mean that is a failure of the previous government of not being able to get them and pin them down to regulations.

KH: Ah right so you are saying they got away scott-free?

WN: Yes they got away from the government that is the previous government who failed to, not the current government the previous government failed to actually pin them down to the regulations.

KH: Right.

WN: Or the mining practices because it is an Australian company, it was listed in the stock exchange in Australia and I think, we think that the Australian stock exchange needs to know about it.

KH: Turning to your own ongoing work to get the mine back on its feet where are you now with preparations?

WN: Well we are actually struggling with building up the treatment plant and dewatering. We have spoken to a number of mining companies overseas in Australia, in China and we have spoken with many individual consultants, companies, organisations around the world. And that is where we are, we actually continue to employ about 50 workers right now in security in the TSF (Tailings Storage Facility) and some supervisions.

KH: And any timeline at all on getting your acquired mine back into operation?

WN: Yes we are confident that we will start cleaning up the mess cleaning up the mill and accommodations and the office onsite starting off next month and hopefully it could be completed by December. We hope to strike some good deals with big boys someone who might be willing to come into partnership by that time and the timeline we are looking at in three years time will probably be, before then will probably be the first gold bar.

Australian miner rejects Gold Ridge claims

Radio New Zealand

The Australia-based miner, St Barbara, is rejecting claims by the new owner of the Gold Ridge mine in Solomon Islands that it sold it an environmental basketcase.

St Barbara sold the mine in May for a nominal amount to Solomons’ landowners’ operated company, Gold Ridge Community Investments Ltd.

That company claims it is faced with a $US29 million dollar disaster because it will need to release toxic water from the tailings dam.

But St Barbara says it spent more than $US14 million dollars after the floods last year, including to repair pumping equipment that had been vandalised.

This money was also used to make the site safe.

St Barbara says it had begun efforts nearly a year ago to win Solomon Islands Government approval for the release of water from the tailings storage dam in a timely fashion before the wet season started.

And the company says despite prolonged inaction by the Solomons Government, it installed new equipment for this exercise.

It says it is heartened the new owners have been able to secure the dewatering approvals it had been denied.


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Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Solomon Islands

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