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Solomon Islands Gold Ridge Landowners welcome proposed sale of Gold Ridge

Staff Reporter | 3:01 AM | |
Solomon Islands Prime Minister's announcement on Friday that negotiations for the possible transfer of ownership of the gold ridge mine on Central Guadalcanal is underway is indeed welcoming news according Chairman of the Gold Ridge Community and Landowners Council.

Dick Douglas said they are happy to hear of the move because they still support the project and want it continue.

PM Lilo confirmed to ABC radio that negotiations are being held between St. Barbara and the Solomon Islands Government in Brisbane, Australia.

St. Barbara's Managing Director, Bob Vassie also confirmed that constructive negotiations for mutual benefit of both parties are currently underway.

Mr Douglas earlier reported that his Council's main concern is their students who are currently studying under gold ridge mining ltd scholarships.

He said further delaying the negotiations will put more pressure on the students and threatened the scheme.

"We do not want to loose this benefit because this is rare and a special opportunity for our students and our future human resource development,” he said.

“Although our call to be included in this process was not considered, we welcome the news about negotiations for the sale of gold ridge.

"We only hope the new owner recognizes our importance and honour previous arrangements and agreements.”

FSII also called on St. Barbara Thursday last week to tell this nation if they are still interested to continue operating the mine in the midst of unstable and uncertain circumstances.

Over the past weeks, GRML has removed equipment and machines from the mine site and conduct a mass redundancy exercise on majority of its expat employees and locals.

FSII's call came following disturbing exposures surfaced in a private article carried in the Solomon Star newspaper entitled: "GRML was wrong all along".

“The allegations are very serious and if true, it is the right time for St. Barbara to declare to its shareholders and stakeholders, business partners and the nation.

“The way things have been transpiring does not portray a steady and healthy progress; therefore it is imperative that St. Barbara declare its position.

“This is for the good for both shareholders and stakeholders,” FSII said.

The closure of the mine since April is greatly affecting the economy and plunged the country's employment rate.

Government gets royalties, duties, taxes and other benefits from the mine, whilst more that 600 locals and service providers directly benefited from the gold ridge operations.

“Therefore the quicker the government and St. Barbara resolves the talks over the sale of gold ridge project, the better it is for the economy and employees.”