By Gary Hatigeva
“FOR the first time in the history of the project we have the opportunity to set up a new investment model for the South Pacific for the long-term benefit of our people and all shareholders.”
These strong sentiments came from the Chairman of Gold Ridge Community Investment Limited (GCIL) and Director of Gold Ridge Mining Limited (GRML), Walton Naezon, when addressing a Chupu ceremony in one of the mine’s pit on Friday.
The occasion was marking a significant process, which involved the removal of over 2000 people from four pits to their communities of origin.
In his remarks, Naezon explained that GCIL took on much risk when it first purchased GRML for AUD$100 from St Barbara, “but I knew that landowners were doing the right thing”.
Upon making his call for a respectable and peaceful moving out process, the GCIL Chairman stressed that once people move out of the pits, Wanguo International Mining Group and AXF Resources will be in a position to recommission the mine and to support GCIL to be set up as a service provider to the mine.
“GCIL is in advanced negotiations with Wanguo and AXF on the signing of a number of Memorandums of Understanding to supply goods and services to the mine.
“The Memorandums of Understanding cover, running the security for most aspects of Gold Ridge Mine and being a human resource contract recruitment agency.
“Other agreements focus on the provision of transport and logistics; food supply and catering to the workforce at the site and the accommodation village; and cultural and customary support for community relations through the establishment of a House of Chiefs and Women Leaders Community Relations Group,” Naezon said.
He said with the mining operation in place, also comes a lot of benefits, and the Gold Ridge Mine landowners know mining and are building their business expertise to supply to the industry.
He then suggested that in the future, landowners through GCIL, look forward to expanding to provide services to the wider Solomon Islands community well beyond the mine and with the support of project investors will be well supported to do just that.
“We look forward to a future where we can partner with other mining and infrastructure companies to support landowners in other provinces to build their capability to supply to the emerging mining industry.
“This is about development by landowners for the benefit of landowners,” the GCIL Chairman and GRML Director concluded.
With the new partnership model, it is understood that the landowners of Gold Ridge through GCIL own 10 percent of the shares in the GRML set up, and will also have a say in decisions to be made on the welfare and operations of the company, having to representatives in the company’s board of directors.
This according to mining experts, is a significant and milestone achievement, which has never happened anywhere around the pacific.
“In most or all cases, landowners will only rely on royalties and other benefits if made available, but in this case with the GRML structure, landowners get to have a say in decisions through the GCIL and dividends, plus other benefits, which will include supply of services to the company, and of course the royalty,” GCIL Director and Member of the GRML Board of Directors, Benjamin Afuga explained in support of the experts’ analysis.