14 Apr 2016

Solomons tailings dam spill under control

4:14 pm on 14 April 2016
Gold Ridge in Solomon Islands

Gold Ridge in Solomon Islands Photo: AFP

The Solomon Islands ministry of environment says a major spill-over at the Gold Ridge mine tailings dam has been brought under control.

Heavy rains caused the dam to overflow its spillway last month.

The permanent secretary of the ministry said drastic action was taken to avoid a breach in the dam wall, allowing the land-owning company Gold Ridge Community Investments Ltd to pump untreated water from the dam to contain the spill.

Melchior Mataki says as of last Friday the company stopped pumping untreated water and returned to treating water in the dam before discharging it.

"The ideal situation here is for the discharge from the TSF with treatment. But the unfortunate thing is that if we do not take any measures to stop the spill over then we risk also the integrity of the full dam itself."

Melchior Mataki says toxicity results are still pending from water and sediment samples from various streams and rivers below the dam.

In the meantime the ministry of health has issued a precautionary warning to communities living downstream of the mine not to use the water for drinking, cooking or bathing.

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