​St Barbara calls on Solomons to help ensure Gold Ridge mine remains safe

St Barbara has called on the Solomon Islands Government aid to ensure its tailings dam does not burst in the upcoming wet season.

It comes on the back of St Barbara’s talks to hand the embattled Gold Ridge mine back to the nation’s government.

A series of weather issues, cyclones, and flooding, compounded by ongoing security concerns saw the miner decide to withdraw all staff from the site, and eventually enter into “negotiations with the government to hand over the investment back to the Solomon Islands Government”.

Now St Barbara is butting heads with the Government over the improvement of Gold Ridge’s tailings dam dewatering conditions prior to the west season, or face the potential of an environmental incident, according to Radio New Zealand.

In its quarterly report St Barbara said "management of the tailings dam is now a critical issue with the approach  of the high rainfall season".

St Barbara added that "Gold Ridge has made many attempts over a prolonged period of time to agree a tailings dam remedial action plan with the Solomon Islands Government; GRML has not been able for some time now to pump water from the taillings dam in compliance with the current dewatering licence conditions due to the destruction of the necessary equipment and the continuing concerns about the security situation".

"We can't doing anything of the nature we are looking at without the approval of the Government, in terms of environmental approvals. And those environmental approvals have to involve the local communities – clearly that is the case. Now we are not in a position to just do what we like there,” St Barbara chief executive Bob Vassie stated.

The miner added that "Gold Ridge has offered technical assistance to the Solomon Islands Government during the currency of the force majeure and to pay for short-term tailings dam facility works, but no progress has been made towards establishing and then implementing an agreed solution".

The Government hit back, stating that the tailings dam issue is only St Barbara’s problem to solve.

Negotiations are stalled and a decision is yet to be reached ahead of the Solomons Island wet season.

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