Gold Ridge Sale: Mining operations may change hands soon

GOLD Ridge mine in central Guadalcanal will be up for sale soon.

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo told ABC Radio in Australia on Friday that negotiations for the possible transfer of ownership of the mine are underway.

Mr Lilo, who was in Brisbane for the Australia Solomon Islands Business Forum, said negotiations are being held between mine owners St. Barbara and the national government.

St Barbara managing director and chief executive officer Bob Vassieconfirmed the negotiations last night.

“St Barbara confirms that constructive negotiations for the mutual benefit of both parties are continuing,” Mr Vassie said.

He said operations at the mine remain suspended.

The news comes days after the company pulled out its expatriate staff due to what it described as “escalating law and order problem at the mine site”.

They have since returned to Australia.

St Barbara also announced last week a major redundancy it is taking.

Meanwhile, police said they will step up security and policing at the mine area.

Deputy Police Commissioner (Operations), NelaMoseserelaying this to the Executive of the Gold Ridge Community and Landowners Council yesterday.

He said the Police Response Team (PRT) will provide security at specific locations within the mining lease area.

“Specifically, my team will take control of the Bubulake office, the main plant site and the Icom area,” Mr Mosese said.

“These locations will be locked and strictly out of bound from the public,” he added.

He said his team will be based at the Tinahulu Police post with a command base at the Icom base but emphasised that their strategic control will be at the Tinahulu base.

The landowners agreed to work together with the police to secure the mine site.

Mr Mosese also told landowners police have been mandated by the national government and will be guided by a terms of reference (TOR).

“The first action to be taken includes total shutoff of the plant site gates, Bubulake and Icom base and control people movements,” he said.

Mr Mosese called on the landowners’ leaders and chiefs to understand that landowners currently helping out to provide security at some of these locations must remove their presence from these sites.

“This is to allow police to freely execute their duties.”

On the question of road access for those residing behind the mining lease and surrounding areas, Mr Mosese assured landowners that access will be permitted but to be closely managed.

He further warned those who may want to abuse the road access will be dealt with by his team at the mining lease areas.

Solomon Star

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