THE Gold Ridge Community and Landowners Council [GRCLC] Ltd is currently conducting meetings to the 16 landowning tribes of the Gold Ridge Mine in Central Guadalcanal.
According to the Chairman of the GRCLC, Dick Douglas the series of meetings in different communities is very important as the company commenced commercial production.
“In order for things to run smoothly, all tribes must first set their house in order”, Douglas said yesterday.
The main purpose of the tribal meetings is to update them and make statutory replacements. Since the mine was closed in 2014, many trustees have passed on and thus needed to be replaced.
“The main agenda includes replacement of deceased land trustees, replacement and confirmation of tribal nominated bank accounts and the replacement of deceased GCIL Shareholders and trustees.
“We have almost completed all tribes and the Kolobisi landowners, and perhaps with one or two more tribes whose meetings have been postponed due to unforeseen circumstances”, Douglas explained.
Supported by the Gold Ridge Mine Company and witnessed by the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrifications, the meetings have been dubbed as successful.
“I can confirm that the awareness meetings went well. Many landowners support the current project, and are excited about the progress and look forward to starting receiving royalties and other benefits again”, Douglas said.
Gold Ridge Mining in Central Guadalcanal is the first gold mining in the country and is currently the biggest gold mining company in the country.
The Gold Ridge project goes back prior to the second world war. The first serious mining exploration started in 1939. In 1995/1996 negotiations between the Government and landowners commenced and finalized. In 1997 a Mining lease covering 30km2 was granted for 25 years, with the option to renew for 10 years plus a special prospecting license SPL 194 covering 130km.
From 1998 to the year 2000, GRML produced 210koz of gold from the Valehaichichi deposit until it was abandoned in 2000 due to civil unrest.
2002- 2005 Australian Solomon Gold [ASG] won a tender and acquired and reopened GRML. In 2010 Allied Gold [AG] acquired GRML from ASG for AUD$40m and development commenced. The first gold pour was done in 2011.
In 2012 St Barbara Mines [SBM] acquired GRML from AG with a staggering AUD$556m. SMB produced 91koz gold during 22 months of operations before it was suspended.
In 2014 GRML operations were suspended due to devastating cyclone Ita causing heavy rainfall and eventually forcing St. Barbara to abandon the mine.
Widespread vandalism and theft also occurred after SBM Management left the site, and landed the operations in a chaotic situation.
In May 2015, Goldridge Investment Limited, a company owned by the landowners of Gold Ridge and downstream communities bought GRML from SBM. In 1996, GCIL partnered with AXF Resources and Wanguo Mining International and recommissioned the mine in 2018.
But after encountering a lot of challenges including COVID-19, the Gold Ridge gold mine’s key was officially turned on by the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare on 29th November 2022.
Excited about the outcomes of the meetings, Douglas said most tribes are now working on reactivating their dormant bank accounts and reopening closed bank accounts.
Douglas acknowledged GRML’s ongoing support and appreciated GCIL and MMERE for supporting GRCLC programs.
“I thank GRML, GCIL and MMERE for the support, and I look forward to seeing my people start receiving their royalties again and contribute towards the country’s economy”, Douglas said.