Solomons Gold Mine Begins Approved Release Of Treated Water

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Gold Ridge tailings storage facility being ‘dewatered’

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 26, 2013) – The flick of a switch and the hum of machinery have marked the start of dewatering at Gold Ridge’s tailings storage facility (TSF).

Officers from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Mines and representatives from Prime Minister’s Office and Gold Ridge Mining Limited attended the opening ceremony of the water treatment plant yesterday.

Minister for the Environment Bradley Tovosia MP confirmed the new facility complies with Government License conditions and Environmental Legislation.

He said the company had been issued a six-month dewatering license.

"The Government has been reliably informed and at ease to confirm that the water treatment plant is working really well," Mr Tovosia said in his keynote address.

He said he was reassured that "water is now safe and will not cause any harm to the downstream communities."

The $8 million project took seven months to complete and has undergone six weeks of monitoring and testing as part of the commissioning phase.

Water is treated to strict international accepted drinking water standards.

The minister praised the trust, transparency and accountability between stakeholders.

He said this was necessary to ensure the safe and responsible dewatering of the tailings storage facility.

"[The Company] has shown its commitment to the downstream communities’ safety," Mr Tovosia added.

[PIR editor’s note: The Solomons Star reported that downstream landowners boycotted the opening ceremony at the water treatment plant, delaying the start of the ceremony as officials waited for them to arrive.]

However, the Minister said this was not the end of the road, and stakeholders would need to continue to work together to ensure the essential discharging of excessive water.

Stean Barrie, GRML General Manager, also acknowledged the value of the project’s stakeholders.

He said the success of the project was significant for the communities’ health and safety, the environment and for mining operations.

"The water treatment plant is an extremely important project for Gold Ridge," Mr Barrie said.

He said the Company had invested heavily in making sure the safety of downstream communities.

"It is a massive investment and further demonstrates St Barbara’s commitment to the Gold Ridge project and to the Solomon Islands."

The new facility will reduce the amount of water in the dam caused by excessive rainfall.

The water treatment plant will be continually monitored with daily testing on-site.

Tests will also be sent to Australia weekly and the results provided directly to the Government.

Under the exercise, treated water from the mine’s tailings dam are released into the nearby Tinahula river.

The exercise should have started Tuesday, but was delayed until yesterday due to certain disagreements over certain issues by the downstream community.

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