Sir Nathaniel Waena Visits Gold Ridge Mine
Sir Nathaniel Visits Gold Ridge Mine
The Governor General His Excellency Sir Nathaniel Waena on Friday made a private visit to the Gold Ridge Mining site in Central Guadalcanal as the mine is expected to inject more than 35 percent of revenue into the national economy when it exports gold in 2009.
The mine which was formerly operated by Australian Company, Ross Mining Ltd was forced to close down during the height of the social unrest in 2000.
The visit which was aimed at seeing the progress of the mine's rehabilitation was arranged by officials of Australia Solomons Gold (ASG) Ltd which acquired the mine from Ross Mining.
Top officials of ASG including country manager Keith Nielson briefed Sir Nathaniel on the progress of the redevelopment process currently underway to prepare the mine before it could start processing gold.
One of the major issues which the company is currently addressing is the relocation of villagers who returned to the mine site when it was closed during the social unrest.
Sir Nathaniel was taken to different locations around the mine which included the 8 meter-deep tailings dam, Ombo Ombo village, the processing plant, and the company's accommodation facilities.
The Governor General used the visit to express gratitude on behalf of the country to the people of Ombo Ombo village and Guadalcanal province for allowing their resource for the economic growth of Solomon Islands.
"To allow your land and resources is a huge generosity for this nation. Your kindness is a positive step towards nation building in our country," Sir Nathaniel said.
He urged tribal landowners and workers of the company to work and co-exist peacefully to ensure the success of the mine.
During the visit, Mr Nielson clarified some common environmental worries about the tailings dam which is currently lying peacefully like a huge lake in a valley below the mine sit.
He said the company will recycle water from the tailings dam to be used at the processing plant when gold production begins.
"The water is actually used for the processing because when minerals are processed we need to mix water with chemicals in leaching tanks in the separation process," he said.
The company is currently putting in place an effective monitoring system to monitor and collect leakages and pump it back into the dam.
Mr Nielson said the tailings dam is free of cyanide and the company's plan to re-process the water will make it even safer than running streams in the area.
Work at the processing plant and accommodation facilities for workers is also progressing well.
Currently there are about 200 workers involved in rehabilitating the company's infrastructure but the work force is expected to reach more than 500 when the mine becomes fully operational.
Mr Nielsen said the gold ridge mine when fully operational will be a huge income earner for the government and the people of Solomon Islands.
He said once gold is exported, Gold Ridge Mine alone is expected to contribute more than 35 percent revenue to the national economy of Solomon Islands.
ASG is developing the Gold Ridge Project when it acquired the mine in May 2005 and has already completed a Feasibility Study to redevelop the Gold Ridge Project.
Ross Mining operated the mine from August 1998 to June 2000 and produced approximately 210,000 ounces of gold during that period.
ASG is expected to produce more than that amount if the company proceeds to dig from three other new pits which are just waiting for the completion of the processing plant and most of all the relocation process.