BY LORETTA BRIGIDIA MANELE
KOLOBISI Tailings Dam Association (KTDA) and Metapono Downstream Association (MDA) of East Guadalcanal are calling on the national government and owners of the Gold Ridge project to be more transparent and inclusive in current efforts to bring back the gold mine.
The above was expressed in a press release by both associations, representing landowners and communities residing near the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) at Gold Ridge and downstream near Tinahulu and Metapono rivers.
Both parties highlighted that misleading information was given to the media regarding plans and purported progress about the reopening of the gold ridge mine which they expressed has led to a lot of confusion among various stakeholders in the project, especially communities they represent and the public at large.
While they acknowledge the Prime Minister and his delegation’s visit to the gold ridge site on April 19, 2018, they are disappointed that they were not consulted about the visit which they view would have been a good opportunity for them to raise some of their concerns about how re-opening of the mines have been handled.
In relation, on the basis that they represent people and communities who are exposed to risks from any mining operations that take place on gold ridge, executives of KTDA and MDA demand that the government, Gold Ridge Communities Investment Ltd (GCIL), Gold Ridge Mining Limited (GRML) and any other entities involved in current efforts to reopen the Gold Mines explain why they were not given the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister.
Also mentioned was that they have no doubt that the Prime Minister must have been aware of the depth of misleading and deliberate information reported by the media on the resumption of mining operations.
Stated in the press release, of the four factors pertaining to this two of them are that there is very little evidence in terms of ground work for the re-opening of the gold mine and that work on the bridge over the Tinahulu River which links to the mining pits and processing plant in Honiara and outside is yet to start.
KTDA and MDA stressed that they have continuously expressed concerns over perceived lack of transparency and fairness in respect of the distribution of risks and benefits associated with the gold ridge mining project and are again voicing this concern.
“We again call on the Solomon Islands government and the owners of the project for more transparency and inclusiveness during the current efforts to resurrect the gold mine. We would like to request responsible authorities to review existing shareholding arrangements and the structure of shareholding and advice stakeholders accordingly,” said the press statement.
Serious consideration for identification of alternative sites to cater for the establishment of a new TSF to support future mining and mineral processing when the mine eventually reopens was also called for since the present site is regarded by the executives as a safety concern for communities.
Furthermore, they request that the Prime Minister and his government respond to a joint submission that was made to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Dec 22, 2017 and for the immediate establishment of a taskforce to oversee and coordinate current efforts to reopen the Gold Ridge mines.
“Such a taskforce must be competent and prepared to take onboard the issues of concern to KTDA and MDA membership,” said the press release statement.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy is also requested to explain the criteria and conditions established for the restoration of the Mining Lease to current holders as well as whether these conditions have been adhered to before the Mining Lease was restored.
The Kolobisi Tailings Dam Association (KTDA) and Metapono Downstream Association (MDA) in accordance with their mandate call on the Office of the Prime Minister and owners of the Gold Ridge project to publicly respond to the concerns raised in this Press Release and earlier releases to the media within 14 days of the date of this press release.
“Beware that KTDA and MDA reserve the right to consider various options to take whatever action necessary in pursuit of and to protect the rights of our membership in respect of the Gold Ridge mining project,” said the press statement.
The paper understands that the press statement was signed by the chairman of Kolobisi Tailings Dam Association (KTDA), Mr Primo Amusaea and chairman of Metapono Downstream Association (MDA), Hon Samson Maneka.