VIEWPOINT- Truth about the GRML tailings dam

Gold Ridge tailing dam. FILE PHOTO
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PRIMO AMUSAEA – Chairman, Kolobisi Tailings Dam Association

DICK DOUGLAS – Chairman, Gold Ridge Communities Landowners Association

Sam Maneka – Chairmann Metapono Downstream Association

GOLD Ridge communities strongly refuted and condemned in the strongest possible terms lies contained in the statement issued by Gold Ridge Mining Limited (GRML) through SIBC and Solomon Star and Island Sun newspapers regarding discharge of dangerous chemicals into the environment.

The statement is a deliberate lie and designed to intentionally misinform the public about what the GRML is actually doing at Gold Ridge and specifically discharge of contaminated water from the Tailing Storage Facility.

We can confirm the statement does not and was not an official press release from the Ministry.

At no time was permission granted to the company for direct discharge contaminated water from the facility into the Kuara tributary of Tinahulu/Metapono River System,  neither was there any “consultation’   conducted by GRML seeking approval for direct discharge of contaminated water into the environment.

However, communities in the area in consultation with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change have agreed to allow the company to do so to reduce water levels on condition that the contaminated water is treated prior to discharge in accordance with existing Agreements on the Management of the Tailings Storage Facility and International Best Practice on Management of Mine Waste.

Despite of the Understanding between the communities and the GRML on the issue, GRML went ahead and discharged dangerous chemical waste into the river system on Wednesday 14th, April, 2021 without regard for the risk that cyanide and other dangerous chemicals contained in stored mining waste pose to the lives and livelihoods of communities residing along and depend on the river system for their sustenance.

This is hypocrisy on the part of GRML, which should not be allowed to continue unabated.

GRML is using the “danger” posed by the rising water level in the dam as an excuse and as a pretext to discharge untreated contaminated water into the river system and thereby avoid the cost of treating the contaminated water prior to discharge as required under MOU with landowners, Solomon Islands Government and Environment Laws of Solomon Islands.

The intention of GRML is to extract the gold content the mine tailings stored in the facility which they do not have the Right to benefit from/ THAT IS THE CRUX OF THE MATTER-the community leaders said in the statement. 

Interestingly, GRML was defiantly discharging contaminated water from the facility while directing whoever issued the public statement on behalf of GRML.

The statement referred to was clearly intended to misinform and mislead the public about the real intentions of the GRML.

This clearly shows what the new Chinese owners of the Gold Ridge mining project are up to and what they are capable of doing.

If GRML is concerned with the rising water level in the tailings dam as claimed in the statement, then it should have done so under temporary permits issued by the Ministry on November 2020.

The permit expired and was reissued again to GRML to conduct the required discharge on condition that waste water is treated.

The extended permit will expire in May 2021.   

GRML has done nothing under those permits.

This clearly indicates that either GRML, whom the statement claims is owned by foreign loggers, operating in Solomon Islands and private foreign business people in Solomon Islands, is not capable of developing Gold Ridge or is using the Gold Ridge Mining Lease for other purpose other mining.

Moves by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to have the owners of GRML and those connected with the unlawful discharge of contaminated water from the facility to be investigated for offences under the Environment Act is welcomed and has the full support of communities residing along the Metapono River system and along the northern coast of Guadalcanal.