THE Feasibility Study developed by Golder Associates, demonstrates that Gold Ridge Project is economically viable and technically feasible.
Yesterday, Gold Ridge Mine Executives met with Honorable Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification Bradley Tovosia to deliver the much anticipated Feasibility Study to the Solomon Islands Government.
With a capital cost (including the start-up cost) of around AUD 140 million, a 13-year life of mine (LOM), and with the assumption of a long-term gold price of USD 1,300 per ounce, the financial model demonstrates that the project will be cash flow positive in its fourth year of operation.
Given the Gold Ridge ores are mostly fresh ore, as opposed to oxide ore, the flotation process is recommended initially to produce gold concentrate while refinery onsite options are being further assessed.
The benefit of the flotation method to produce gold concentrate is first that no cyanide will be used in the production process which means that the environmental impact of the project is significantly reduced.
Secondly, the method means that GRML can recommission the mine and reach full production two years quicker which lets the project reach a cashflow positive position for the benefit of government, landowners and investors much sooner.
The redesigned and refurbished process plant will have a processing capacity of 2.5 million ton per annum. The processing design builds on the metallurgical test work carried out by Xiamen Zijin Technology of Mining and Metallurgy Ltd. (Zijin) in late 2017 and the process plant refurbishment and redesign work undertaken by China Nerin Engineering Co. Ltd in 2018.
An independent study by the Griffith University in Australia shows that the total macroeconomic impact of reopening the Gold Ridge Mine and injecting new capital is expected to generate significant economic benefits for the Solomon Islands economy.
It is estimated that the initial investment will contribute around 59 percent of the total forecast foreign direct investment for 2020. Based on previous gold mining experience in the Solomon Islands, the project is estimated to directly contribute around 9.3 percent of the GDP of the Solomon Islands in 2020, and about 6 percent of GDP annually over the life of the mine. Gold exports are expected to make around a 17 percent contribution to total exports.
The project production phase will initially employ approximately 250 to 300 direct jobs with 70 percent of the unskilled and semi-skilled roles forecast to be employed from the local catchment and the Solomon Islands.
The project’s indirect employment impact through the demand for workers and services by the mine and across the supply chain is the creation of approximately 6,723 job opportunities.
The Feasibility Study identified that there is also significant potential to extend the life of the operation through future exploration.
“This project represents a significant nation-building opportunity for the people of Solomon Islands with significant economic and social benefits of the project for the landowners and communities of Gold Ridge if carefully managed.” said Mr Naezon, a Director of Gold Ridge Mining Limited (GRML) who represents the interests of the Gold Ridge Mine landowner catchment who have a ten percent equity share in the mine.
“We have studied the lessons from the past and we know the factors needed to ensure the mine’s success” said Mr Allen Wang, Director-Elect and GRML’s Assistant Chief Executive Officer.
“The project requires an uncompromising focus on gold recovery and cost management; responsible tailings and environmental management; and the embedding of the landowners and communities of Gold Ridge as true equity and development partners” said Mr Wang.
For landowners to realise the benefits of the mine however, requires them to take their respective project responsibilities. A key responsibility of landowners and Chiefs at this stage is the removal of pit miners who are illegally panning for gold in the pits.
Landowners must also show commitment and be empowered to save and invest for the long-term and to ensure that equitable and inclusive royalty and dividend distribution mechanisms are put in place to share in the wealth generated from the mine.
“We will play our part, to turn Gold Ridge Mine into a profitable long-term operation, for the benefit of landowners, the Solomon Islands and investors, and we need landowners to underpin and reinforce this opportunity and for all key stakeholders to support us”, said Mr Richard Gu, Director of GRML and Chairman of AXF Gold Ridge Pty Ltd.
“We call on the Solomon Islands Government and the donor community to rally behind the project, and in particular, to support the landowners, communities, women and youth of Gold Ridge to derive long-term benefits from the mine”, said Mr Gu.
GRML are progressing a number of plans to demonstrate the company’s long-term commitment to the project and landowners. The plans cover environmental, tailings and social performance management, future planned exploration, local employment and workforce localisation, local buying and business development and community and landowner development.
Gold Ridge Mine is a brownfield open pit gold mine located in Guadalcanal Province, Solomon Islands.