By Gary Hatigeva
A government delegation consisting of two ministers and top level officials, yesterday held an informal visit to the Gold Ridge Mining site to see firsthand the progress in preparations done for the reopening of mining operations.
The one-day visit came as part of an invitation from the landowners represented by the Gold Ridge Community Investment Limited (GCIL) and Gold Ridge Mining Limited (GRML), who have now partnered with two merging investors.
The delegation led by the Minister for Peace and Reconciliation who is Acting for the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ishmael Avui, was received with a traditional Guadalcanal welcome ceremony (Chupu).
The Minister Acting, when receiving the Chupu gift, thanked the partnering parties for the invitation and gave assurance of the government’s strong support to see that operation resumes.
He shared that the mining project is also a priority area in the government’s scope of policies and therefore follow closely on the preparations and progress of getting the site to resume.
Also present at the ceremony was Minister for Communication & Aviation and Member of Parliament for Central Guadalcanal, Peter Shannel Agovaka, who reminded the gathering to look after and properly guide the project not just into its eventuation, but so as the operation’s ongoing status.
“This is a tripartite arrangement where we work together with the government, for without one, this mining project will not happen.
“The three are equally important. We need the government, we need the landowners and the investors,” the Central Guadalcanal MP explained.
Meanwhile, the Central Guadalcanal MP stressed and requested that the directors of the company put continuous efforts in maintaining its awareness and consultation programmes with the land owners.
He said this is to keep landowners updated on the ongoing developments and progress of the initiation, which he pointed out that though with little share, land owners are a key partner in the set up.
The visit also included a meeting between the parties and the government delegation, where they were briefed on matters regarding the structure of the setup, while at the same time heard presentations on the company’s development plans once operations are up and running.
Following the chupu ceremony and the closed meeting, the delegation was taken around the mine site to see various facilities and sites, with explanations on the processes that will be involved when they become operational.
The group also visited one of the much talked about locations, which holds the operation’s tailing dam.
While on site, questions were raised especially from the government’s team, mostly on the environmental aspects of the operation and other issues related to the infrastructures and facilities used.
The acting Minister of Mines and Energy was accompanied by the Minister for Environment Dr Culwick Togamana and his Permanent Secretary, the Environment Director, Prime Minister’s Office representatives and under-secretaries.