5 Jan 2015

Solomons Govt. holds back from Gold Ridge decision

3:04 pm on 5 January 2015

The future of the closed Gold Ridge Mine in Solomon Islands remains uncertain with the newly-elected government cautious about pursuing the previous administration's push to purchase the mine from its Australian owners.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says his government will not be rushing into a purchase.

Manasseh Sogavare

Manasseh Sogavare Photo: RNZI Koroi Hawkins

He says he has already turned back a cabinet paper that sought a decision on the mine's future.

"Well short term it is an immediate concern because it contributes to a great chunk of our GDP. But as I said the strength of the country lies in other areas. Agriculture, fisheries, tourism those are areas that we can quickly focus our attention in."

Manasseh Sogavare says a more urgent matter, with the approaching wet season, is the threat of the mine's tailings dam overflowing, which could flood downstream villages and cause serious environmental damage.

He says the cabinet paper is being redrafted to focus specifically on the tailings dam, leaving the mine's future on hold until a panel of experts conclude an investigation into the mine's viability.