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Employees, land owners say the rusty tank has been leaking

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, March 13, 2009) – Gold Ridge Mining Limited’s mining manager Tom Michalak yesterday insists there’s no way cyanide would leak from a storage tank at the mine site.

He said this to a group of journalists the company invited to the mine site.

That’s after employees and landowners accused the mining company of carelessness and for failing to contain alleged leakage of cyanide.

But Mr. Michalak said claims of cyanide leaking into the surrounding were simply not true.

"A specialist mechanical engineer who inspected the site and storage tank this week confirmed there’s no leakage," Michalak said. "The maintenance on the tank was also observed by members of the Labour and Environment Department," he added.

The mining manager said the inspection and remedial work was undertaken in accordance with safety procedures, including job safety analysis.

"Certainly there was no leakage of cyanide into the environment because we have a regular environment monitoring program which shows us there is no leakage."

Michalak said maintenance was carried out on the rusty section of the tank and it is planned to be repainted this week.

He said they understand the community’s concerns and that this was a topical issue in the media so they decided to take concrete action.

He added if there is any cyanide leakage from the tank, it’ll be contained in the reinforced concrete wall built around the tank.

"The concrete wall was built to international standards and is designed to safely contain any leaks."

Michalak said there is no cyanide disposal into the tailings dam, only rainwater which has accumulated in the wall due to recent heavy rain.

"I can confirm that the water which we pumped out, and which was doubly mistaken for cyanide, was rain water.

"They were not cyanide," he said.

Michalak said they only found minor traces of cyanide in the tank when they used an electronic monitor.

"Anyway who has doubts over what we’re doing here should come and see us directly so that we can answer their questions."

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