Tag Archives: Gold Ridge Community Investment Limited

Gold Ridge to restart within 18 months

Solomon Star | 11 August 2017

AXF Gold Ridge Pty Ltd of Australia says it has secured additional investor funding to start the immediate recommissioning of the Gold Ridge Mine Project.

“This investment will see mine production on track to start within 18 months,” a statement issued by the company on Wednesday stated.

“In an unprecedented partnership arrangement, Gold Ridge Community Investment Ltd (GCIL), which comprised the local land owners, owns 10% of Gold Ridge Mining Limited,” the statement added.

AXF Gold Ridge holds the balance of 90%.

The statement said additional capital and technical expertise from the Hong Kong publicly listed new shareholder Wanguo International Mining Group strengthens AXF Gold Ridge.

“New capital will help the Gold Ridge Mine Project reach its full potential.

“Wanguo International Mining Group led by Mingqing Gao has provided technical expertise to the Gold Ridge Mine Project for the past year.

“The strength of the partnership between landowners and AXF Resources, combined with the support from the government, has given Wanguo the confidence to commit as an investor to this project.”

Gold Ridge Mine’s principal landowners and community leaders confirmed their continued full support and commitment to the project during consultation.

Landowners agreed that by working together, the recommissioned Gold Ridge Mine would achieve new heights (Yu mi tugeda bae mekem Gold Ridge mine waka gud).

Richard Gu, Managing Director of the AXF Group and Director of AXF Gold Ridge Pty Limited, said:

“I feel humbled and proud that the project has reached this stage.

“I look forward to a long and fruitful development partnership with Gold Ridge Mine landowners, our investor, and the people and government of the Solomon Islands”.

Senior executives from AXF Gold Ridge including Chairman-elect Mingqing Gao, Richard Gu, and Dr Shaun Ren visited the Solomon Islands this week to celebrate the milestone with landowners and government officials.

At a meeting with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, chairman-elect Mr Gao reinforced:

“The reopening of the Gold Ridge Mine will send a strong message to the investment community that the Solomon Islands is open for responsible and transparent mining business”.

Over the next 18 months, the come said the Gold Ridge mine site will undergo a complete refurbishment with infrastructure upgrades to improve site access and the construction of a new power station.

“An independent review of the tailings storage facility will be commissioned to minimise risk to local communities.

“Community relations activities will ramp up with one of the priorities the establishment of socially inclusive engagement mechanisms with landowners and local communities.”

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Solomons landowners discuss concerns on reopening gold mine

The over-full tailings dam facility at the Gold Ridge Gold Mine on Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands in January 2015. Photo: copyright Dr Matthew Allen – ANU

Landowners on Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands have been consulted about the proposed reopening of the Gold Ridge gold mine.

The mine was closed in 2014 after massive floods and its ownership was then transferred from the Australian owner St Barbara to a local land-owning company Guadalcanal Community Investments Ltd.

Guadalcanal Community Investments Ltd is now working with Chinese-owned Australian property developer AXF Group which plans to have the mine operational by the end of 2018.

Bringing the gold mine back to life is also a major policy objective of the government which says it wants to do it right.

Members of landowning communities discussed a range of issues with government officials and company representatives relating to royalties, security, environmental impact, revenue sharing and the relocation of people.

They were assured by both the government and the company that their concerns would be taken onboard and addressed to ensure a smooth reopening.

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Solomon Islands Government pushes for controversial Gold Ridge mine to reopen

The mine, on Guadalcanal, is about 40 kilometres from the Solomon Islands' capital, Honiara. (Concrete Evidence, file)

The mine, on Guadalcanal, is about 40 kilometres from the Solomon Islands’ capital, Honiara. (Concrete Evidence, file)

Richard Ewart, Bindi Bryce | ABC News | 31 January 2017

The Solomon Islands Government says it is planning to reopen the gold mine that was sold to local landowners by an Australian miner in 2015 for $100.

Key points:

  • The only gold mine in Solomon Islands has been closed since 2014 amid environmental concerns
  • Gold Ridge mine is owned by a local landholder group which supports its rehabilitation
  • A Chinese property investment company says it has invested in the mine

Mining company St Barbara controversially sold its legal liability in the mine to local landowner company Goldridge Community Investment.

The Solomon Islands Government said it was now negotiating with landowners and an investor — Australian-based Chinese property developer AXF Group.

A statement on the company’s website said AXF had partnered with Goldridge Community Investment, “and aims to repair, refurbish and upgrade the Gold Ridge plant to bring it back into operation”.

The mine on central Guadalcanal, south-east of the capital Honiara, was closed after severe flooding in 2014.

Since then, there have been constant concerns over the risk posed to public safety by the threat of toxic water overflowing from the tailings dam.

Shortly after St Barbara sold the mine, the Solomon Islands Government declared it a disaster area when a tropical cyclone filled the dam to capacity.

In 2016, after an “uncontrolled release” of untreated water from the mine’s tailings dam, Solomon Islands health authorities warned villagers living downstream not to use river water because it could be contaminated by arsenic.

Plans to reopen ‘as soon as practically possible’

PHOTO: Gold Ridge gold mine in Solomon Islands has had a chequered history.

Gold Ridge gold mine in Solomon Islands has had a chequered history.

The Government said in a statement it now hoped the mine would be reopened “as soon as is practically possible”.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s chief of staff, Robson Djokovic, told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program there were still risks associated with the mine reopening, but they were being addressed.

“There are procedures and systems that have been developed … to ensure the highest standards of safety are met to avoid any potential hazards or risks,” Mr Djokovic said.

“Of course, not everybody is going to agree. We understand the reality of those who might object.

“But the Government is ensuring that thorough consultation is being carried out and we are listening to the various stakeholders, particularly those that are located in the area of the mine site.”

PHOTO: Mothers wash their children in a river bed near the Gold Ridge mine. (Reuters: James Regan, file)

Mothers wash their children in a river bed near the Gold Ridge mine. (Reuters: James Regan, file)

The chairman of the landowner company, Walton Naezon, said local landholders did not oppose the Government’s push to reopen the mine.

But he told Pacific Beat it would take time.

“We’re trying to restructure and rehabilitate an old mine which has gone, run down almost 100 per cent,” he said.

“We are going to look at all the aspects of environment issues [and] we are going to make sure that our foreign partners are listening to us.

“We want to do everything right according to law. We must make sure everyone likes the operation and the benefits of the operation.”

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Solomon Islands govt reinstates Gold Ridge mining lease

gold-pan

Radio New Zealand | 24 January 2017

The mining lease for a closed gold mine in Solomon Islands is being reinstated by the government after having been cancelled by the mines minister last year.

A government statement said the relevant framework for the Gold Ridge mine to reopen was being finalised.

But the chairperson of the customary land-owning company, Gold Ridge Community Investments Ltd, which is the minority shareholder in the mine, said this basically referred to cancelled mining lease.

Walton Naezon said the majority shareholder, the Chinese-owned AXF Group, wanted to begin reconstruction of the mine in early February provided the lease has been reinstated.

“There is two things, one is to start the mine, doing the roads, rehabilitating the mill, doing constructions and doing explorations and assessing the tailings dam. Those are mining activities that can be taking place quickly from February upward. The actual production was look at end of 2018.”

He said it was projected that the cost of bringing the mine back into production would be between $US80 and 90 million.

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Politics said to be hampering Solomons gold mine

Solomon Islands coat of arms on Parliament buildings in Honiara Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

Solomon Islands coat of arms on Parliament buildings in Honiara Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

Radio New Zealand | 9 November 2016

A minority shareholder says political interference has set back the reopening of the Solomon Islands Gold Ridge gold mine.

The director of the customary landowning company, Gold Ridge Community Investments, said it’s been delayed by several months.

Walton Naezon would not give any specifics but said the political interference was to do with opinions on how the mine should be run.

Mr Naezon said a proposal to re-open the mine at the end of 2018 had been delivered to the government earlier this year.

“But there are some political issues that have been arising in the last one to two months.

“That has delayed that, so our new timetable that after GR engineering services finalise their report we might lodge to the government and I am hopeful that the new timetable will be for the first quarter or second quarter of 2019.”

Mr Naezon said resurrecting the mine will cost almost $US85 million.

He said the majority shareholder, AXF Group which is Chinese-owned, has already raised more than two thirds of that cost.

Mr Naezon said a separate Chinese engineering firm had completed a design for a new mine site and this is being looked over by the mine’s original designer, GR Engineering Services Ltd, from Australia.

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Poisoning warning in Solomons

Water spills over the Gold Ridge tailings dam wall

Water spills over the Gold Ridge tailings dam wall

Radio New Zealand, 13 April 2016

The Solomon Islands Ministry of Health has warned people living in villages below the tailings dam of the Gold Ridge Mine on Central Guadalcanal not to use water from streams for drinking, cooking and bathing.

The warning followed days of heavy rain last week which caused the tailings dam to overflow onto the streams below.

The Ministry said arsenic could have ended up in the streams and therefore it advised villagers also not eat fish and eels from them as well as animals using them.

The warning was given despite an earlier denial by the Chair of the Gold Ridge Community Investments, Walton Naezon, of the tailings dam overflowing arsenic into the stream.

The Premier of the Guadalcanal Province, Anthony Veke, told local radio the incident was worrying his government.

Mr Veke said disaster authorities were considering despatching water tanks to the villagers immediately.

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Solomons government warns over gold mine tailings dam spill

gold ridge tailings dam

Gold Ridge mine tailings dam

Solomon Islands government has warned villagers downstream of the Gold Ridge mine not to use rivers after tens of millions of litres of untreated water flowed uncontrolled from its toxic tailings dam.

Stefan Armbruster | SBS, 11 April 2016

A press release was issued late on Friday by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMA) titled, “Stop using the Kwara, Tinahula and Matepono rivers now”. Water has been pumped from the critically full dam since late last month to protect the dam wall from collapse but heavy rain caused the spillway release lasting more than a week.

“This overflow may carry with it sediments containing high levels of arsenic.”

Overnight the flow over the spillway has reportedly almost stopped.

The Solomons government declared the mine site a “disaster zone” last year over fears the tailings dam might fail, threatening about 8,000 villagers living along the river systems below.

Last month it issued mine owner Gold Ridge Community Investment Limited (GCIL) a licence to pump treated and untreated water from to safeguard the dam wall.

“All downstream communities are advised to immediately STOP using the Kwara, Tinahula and Matepono rivers until advised by MHMS and the World Health Organisation that it is safe to do so. Do NOT use river water for drinking, cooking, washing, bathing/swimming or fishing,” Friday’s Minister of Health media release said.

“In addition, downstream communities are advised NOT to eat food, including fish, from the river, NOT to prepare food or wash cooking utensils with river water, and NOT to eat animals that have died in or near the river.

“Finally, if the dam wall breaks, there may be a risk of drowning or injury due to the increased water flow. Communities should be prepared to evacuate quickly to a higher place, if required.”

The media release was issued to Solomon Islands news organisations after SBS reported on Friday the contents of a draft version dated four days earlier but that was not issued.

A downstream community leader said last week they were “panicking” about the release of untreated tailings dam water and had been “ignored by the government”.

Chair of GCIL, the landowner company that owns the mine, Walton Neazon said he had advised the downstream communities about the dewatering and to reduce their usage of river water.

GCIL said water releases by pumping and the over spillway began on March 29.

By last Friday, an estimated 150,000 cubic meters of treated and 92,000 cubic meters of untreated tailings dam water had been pumped out of the dam.

Water samples from the dam and downstream communities are due to be tested in Australia over the coming weeks.

The mine was shut down in 2014 after damage from severe flash flooding left the tailings dam critically full.

After the Solomon Islands government’s refusal to allow the then owner, Australian miner St Barbara, to dewater the tailings dam, the Gold Ridge mine and all legal liability was sold to GCIL last year for $100.

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