THE Chairman of the Gold Ridge Community and Landowners Association [GRCLC], Mr Dick Douglas has called on his people residing in the mining leased areas to vacate and return to their villages.
Douglas was speaking during an awareness program to move pit settlers out from the mining pits last week.
He said people in the pits are there on a temporary basis for panning gold but it’s time to vacate the pits and stay out of the mining lease areas.
Douglas confirmed that most of these people have houses in the relocation villages therefore they must go back to occupy their houses in the relocation villages built by the Government and previous company.
But whilst supporting the removal exercise, the Chairman questioned the company about those that have resided permanently in the mining leased areas.
“The other point I want to make for you to note is that these people are here on a temporary basis only, but there are others that resided permanently in the mining leased areas.
“So, my question is; what will happen to those who stayed permanently in the mining leased areas, and never moved?
“They have lived permanently in the mining leased areas for a long time. There have been three removal exercises but they are still here. They never moved.
“My point is they caused people to counter the pit removal exercises and take advantage of the situation whenever there is a call for pit settlers to move, and secondly it cause them to keep coming back.
“Please give them a knock and tell them they need to move. Some arrangement and focus must be on those that lived permanently in mining leased areas, so that it is fair for everyone”, Douglas said.
Douglas is optimistic that once this is done, everyone will see that we do things together and move together. He also assured the company his Council is willing to help.
“If this is done, everyone will see that we do everything together and move together. So, these are some of the key things I want to put across, and want to assure you we will help you on this exercise”, he added.
The pit removal exercise led by Chiefs and the company’s Community Relations Department is supported by MMERE, Guadalcanal province and the RSIPF.
The exercise is done to remove those that have resettled in the mining leased areas, especially the mining pits to allow mining activities to ramp up as the company heads towards production in the coming weeks.
Thousands of settlers, consisting of some landowners that have been resettled by the company and SIG at seven relocation villages continue to carry out artisan mining in the mining pits day and night amidst mining activities.
“Firstly, people must understand this is a safety issue. These people put themselves at great danger as mining activities ramp up in the pits. We have excavators and other movable machines operating 24 hours, so to have people pan around our machineries puts everyone at risk including our operators.
“Some time ago, an artisan miner was buried by an excavator, luckily another artisan miner saw him and was quickly rescued with the help of the machine. So, you see that incident would have put the company in an awkward situation.
“Secondly, they are encroaching and trespassing into mining leased areas. Royalties are paid by the company based on agreed calculations and gazetted as the Royalty regulations. So, when individuals extract gold, nothing goes to the landowning tribes but when the company extracts gold, landowning tribes gets their shares through royalty payments”, said GRML Director and the Govt & Public Relations Manager, Ben Afuga.
Afuga said the company has commissioned all it’s plants and recruited key workers as operators in the different processing areas.
“Last week we commissioned our crusher plant, conveyer system and the main flotation processing plant. Prior to that we have also commissioned our 11KV Power station, stockpiled ores plus a whole lot of other plants, recruited operators and conducted trainings. All of these are part of our preparedness for trial production expected towards the end of the month.
“At full production, the Gold Ridge Mine in Central Guadalcanal is expected to generate $1.6b annually, 42% of this is direct Government revenues from its 3% royalty share, taxes, duties and others. This project is a huge economic booster for the country. So, in our current economic situation, everyone will agree Gold Ridge project is important”, Afuga said.
He also thanked the Government, in particular the Ministry of Mines and Environment and other stakeholder ministries, relevant Govt departments, the Guadalcanal provincial Government, the chiefs and landowners through their Associations and all stakeholders for supporting the project.
“Although the project took a long time to meet its production timeline, I want to assure everyone that we want to do it right this time. Much has been expected but learning from the past operations, our paramount goal is we must do it differently.
“Finally, I call on all stakeholders to continue provide GRML the support it needs to realize the full potential of the mine and meet its paramount goals”, Afuga said.
The pit removal exercise led by Chiefs and the company’s Community Relations Department is supported by Ministry of Mines, the Ministry of Environment, GP provincial Government and RSIPF. The exercise will continue this week.
Source: GRML Media