A major awareness programme on the planned re-opening of the Gold Ridge Mine in Central Guadalcanal is underway with tribal owners of the area this week.
A combined team comprising representatives from the Government, the Gold Ridge Mining Ltd (GRML) and the Gold Ridge Landowners Council (GRLC) had been reaching out to people to discuss the project beginning Monday this week.
Re-opening the mine is one of the priority projects of the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) Government since the mine’s closure in 2014.
Since then, the Government had been facilitating dialogue and negotiations between Gold Ridge Mining Limited (GRML) – a locally owned company which was granted license to operate the mine.
In 2016, the Government had appointed a Cabinet-Sub Committee to carry out studies and to report on the best way forward for the mine’s reopening.
As part of the process, a number of open dialogue and consultations have been carried out in past months to forge better understanding amongst key stakeholders of the mine.
This week’s awareness programme had provided an opportunity for landowning tribes to voice their concerns and feelings on the best way forward to re-open the mine.
Issues ranging from benefits, royalties, security, environmental impacts, revenue sharing and relocation of people were amongst the many topics raised during the awareness programmes on Monday and Tuesday.
Chair of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Gold Ridge and MP for East Guadalcanal, Hon Bradley Tovusia said he was pleased with frank discussions during the meetings on Monday and Tuesday.
“I am pleased with the open and frank discussions we had with the tribal groups which will be taken onboard in our final report to the Government,” he said.
He added that the process is critical to forge a better understanding between tribal groups, the company and the government to ensure mistakes made in the past are not repeated when the mine is re-opened.
Senior GRLM representative, Walton Naezon said the company will further consult with people to iron out any differences and outstanding issues with landowning tribes to ensure a smooth re-opening process.
“We will do our part with landowning tribes to ensure the anticipated re-opening process runs smoothly,” he said.
Officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Department of Mines and the Department of Environment represented the Government while GRML and GRLC are represented by their top officials.
Also attending this week were the Minister for National Unity, Peace and Reconciliation and MP for North Guadalcanal Samson Maneka and the Minister for Communication and Aviation and MP for Central Guadalcanal, Hon Peter Shanel Agovaka.
The two Guadalcanal MPs have made commitments to ensure the mine is re-opened while at the same time encouraged their tribal groups to work closely with the Government and Company towards the reopening process.
The programme continues through this week and will conclude this Friday.