Radio New Zealand
The local owners of Solomon Islands Gold Ridge gold mine have been given a new water treatment facility by the mine’s former Australian owners St Barbara Ltd.
The treatment plant which cost more than US $70,000 will be used to try and safely dewater the mine’s over full tailings dam in the coming months.
Walton Naezon, the chairperson of the landowning company, Gold Ridge Community Investments Ltd, spoke with Koroi Hawkins just before the handing over of the new facility.
WALTON NAEZON: Under the deeds of sale for the landowners company Gold Ridge Community Investments Ltd negotiate that St Barbara and one of their obligations is to build and operate and transfer the ownership of the treatment plan to Gold Ridge Investments Ltd. So that is what is happening today all these containers have the treatment plant, chemicals and everything arrived two months ago and the installation construction and everything is complete and we just about to witness the official handing over.
KOROI HAWKINS: Now this is an important step in your plan on the road to recovery or the reopening of the mine, how significant is it that you actually have the treatment plant in place now?
WN: When we took over the mine from St Barbara on the first of May I said to the media and the government and the people of Solomon Islands is that one of the important tasks to be able to complete quickly is the tailings dam. We need to dewater the water from the tailings and that will reduce the risk in investing in the Gold Ridge project. It is a relief for me with this handover and I will start the dewatering of the TSF water. Yes and how much water are you planning to treat and dewater weeks and months. We wanted to dewater about a metre over three months and then we can be able to assess again and continue to dewater. Hoping that the mining will be up and running next year.
KH: The last time we spoke you said you were talking to multiple stakeholders, companies in China and Australia for various parts of the operation is that still the process that you are going through?
WN: Yes we have actually shortlisted one now apart from the rest and we are negotiating with the heads of agreement that are supposed to be completed this week.
KH: And you mentioned a possible start date for the reopening of the mine next year. Is that early next year, mid or towards the end?
WN:Ah yea once we got the heads of agreement signed the partner will actually control the mine along with us and the work should start right straightaway next month. And the actual exploration and other activities will take off quickly in the first quarter of next year.