13 Nov 2014

Worry over arsenic at Solomons mine tailings dam

12:39 pm on 13 November 2014

Arsenic levels in the tailings dam of the Gold Ridge gold mine in Solomon Islands have authorities concerned as the country enters the monsoon season.

The gold mine which was abandoned by its Australian owners, St Barbara, after flooding in April is supposed to be sold to the Solomon Islands government.

The sun sets over the Port of Honiara in Solomon Islands.

The sun sets over the Port of Honiara in Solomon Islands. Photo: RNZI/Koroi Hawkins

But the Special Secretary to the Prime Minister and lead negotiator on the government side, Phillip Tagini, says negotiations are on hold and the focus now is on securing the tailings dam hazard before the rainy season starts.

"Both parties have agreed that they will pick up that issue, that discussion after a new government is set in place. So we are working together to try and resolve this matter and we hope that we can do that in the next few weeks or months."

Phillip Tagini says tests carried out on the Gold Ridge tailings dam show reduced levels of cyanide but a high concentration of arsenic.

He says consultation is being done with local communities before a plan to dilute and drain some of the water in the dam is carried out.

Full interview

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