Dewatering starts at Solomons gold mine
The local owners of Solomon Islands Gold Ridge gold mine have begun the dewatering process at the mine's overfull tailings dam.
The local owners of the Gold Ridge mine in Solomon Islands have begun the process of draining the mine's over-filled tailings dam.
This comes several months after a water treatment plant was installed to kick off the process, which the owners say is an important step towards resurrecting the mine's operation.
The chairperson of Gold Ridge Community Investments, Walton Naezon told Koroi Hawkins about the latest developments.
WALTER NAEZON: We have been licensed to actually dewater about 540 thousand cubic meters of water. And we will do 12 thousand cubic meters a day at about 500 cubic metres an hour. So that is the licence we got and we have started and we hope to go for the next three months.
KOROI HAWKINS: And this is treated water, is that correct?
WN: Yes this is treated water. An the water was treated and it's well below the WHO-recommended clean water, drinking water. It's cyanide-free. There is no cyanide. We have sent some samples down to Brisbane and we got the results. So we have sent about ten lots of samples. it's weak. And we have reduced the level of arsenic and cyanide down to the level that's acceptable by the WHO, and the government looked at it and said it is clear. That's why the director of environment granted a license to dewater.
KH: After the three months, what happens?
WN: Yes, the dewatering is the most important part of reopening Gold Ridge. And so we started off and that gives us confidence and relief to be abel to move forward to the next step. So it takes us about three months to dewater down to its control level. And next month, two weeks time, we will have engineering and other people who will come and look at rebuilding and reassessing and starting to invest into the project.
KH: So you've secured investors who will be taking on all that repair work, have you?
WN: Yes we have signed an initial agreement back in December with a company, a property developer in Australia, a Chinese company, and they've got a contract company signed up. So yes we entered an agreement with AXF Resources, an Australia-based company, to be able to drive the project forward.
KH: How are landowners, land-owning tribes, taking the dewatering process starting?
WN: I think everyone is happy. There's a few guys who wanted to cause some problems and we had arranged with them to come to the office - we explained to them. The government is very helpful, especially the ministry of environment and prime minister's office. we are a bit disappointed that the ministry of mines and energy are not forthcoming, because of their excuse of a lack of funding. But I think the government is doing a lot of good things I think they are helping the process and their policy is pretty clear and we are ready to go ahead and get this partner across in the next month and finalise the joint venture agreement and shareholder arrangement and then we will start developing the project.
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