The Solomon Islands government has lifted an immigration ban, allowing St Barbara to send in company staff to enable a site assessment and works to repair flood damage caused at the Gold Ridge mine earlier this year.
St Barbara employees who worked at the Gold Ridge mine were banned from re-entering the country, three weeks after heavy rain and catastrophic flash flooding forced the evacuation of the mine.
Senior executives from the Company recently participated in a cultural reconciliation process with the Solomon Islands Prime Minister.
In April the Prime Minister’s special secretary Dr Phil Tagini went on the record to indicate that the general community and the Solomon Islands government were unsatisfied with the way personnel had left the mine without informing the relevant departments.
The government has established an Interim Working Group comprising the permanent secretaries of key departments, representatives of landowner groups, senior government personnel and government advisors, to work directly with Gold Ridge to expedite government approvals and reporting processes.
Gold Ridge said a preliminary review of the site indicated the key assets and infrastructure were well secured by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, but that “a large number of illegal miners” have returned to the mining areas.
Gold Ridge plans to conduct an agreed range of site works with a particular focus on lowering water levels in the tailings dam, which had risen significantly during the flood event.
The site and tailings dam have already been inspected by a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team.