THE recommissioned Gold Ridge Mine in Central Guadalcanal will be officially opened tomorrow (Tuesday) by the Prime Minister. Manasseh Sogavare.
The ceremony to be held at the Mine site on Tuesday 29th November 2022 will be attended by Sogavare, Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, Hon. Bradley Tovosia, Minister of Environment, Hon Stanley Sofu, Permanent Secretaries, Premier of Guadalcanal Province, Hon. Francis Sade, Diplomatic Heads, landowner associations, other distinguished guests, chiefs, landowners, community leaders and others.
There will also be some overseas guests, representing shareholders, financiers and other GRML international stakeholders, a statement from the company, said.
The program will start at 9:30am with a traditional welcome ceremony with a ruchu, halevu, nilau and tatalonga, followed by a chupu presentation.
The program proper will start at 10:00am beginning with a short film “Story of Gold Ridge – Faith for Unity, Faith for Future”.
SNAPSHOT OF GOLD RIDGE PROJECT
Gold Ridge Mining is the first gold mining in the country and is currently the biggest mining company in the country.
The Gold Ridge project goes back prior to WWII. 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, option to renew 10 years plus a special prospecting license SPL 194 covering 130km.
From 1998 to year 2000, GRML produced 210koz of gold from the Valehaichichi deposit until it abandoned in 2000 due to the civil unrest.
2002- 2005 Australian Solomon Gold [ASG] won tender to 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 AG AUD$556m. SMB produced 91koz gold during 22 months of operations.
In 2014 GRML operations suspended due to cyclonic rainfall. Widespread vandalism and theft occurred after SBM Management left the site.
In May 2015, Goldridge Investment Limited, a company owned by the landowners of Gold Ridge and downstream communities bought GRML from SBM.
Because GCIL has no technical knowhow and funds to reopen the mine, GCIL started looking for a reputable investor. After talking to a few investors, GCIL finally settled with AXF Resources. In 2016, AXF acquires 90%.
1n 2016, Wanguo commenced negotiations with AXF to acquire majority interest in the project. Wanguo finally acquired 77.8% from AXF in 2020 and becomes the largest shareholder in the Gold Ridge project.
In 2021, heap leaching trial production commenced. The flotation trial product and test runs commenced in the 4rd/4th quarter of 2022.
GRML anticipates to export 10tonnage of gold concentrates this month. Royalties are expected to paid to SIG, LOs, GP. Government will also get it’s share of the revenue from tax, duty and others.
At it’s peak, GRML is expected to generate SBD$1.6b, more than 40% is Government’s, whilst investors and LOs/others shared the remaining. Besides royalties, LOs through GCIL will be paid dividends once GRML makes profits.
Lesson to learn
It must be noted that the Gold Ridge model is the way forward for the country’s resource sector, where resource owners participate in the development of their resources, rather than spectators. The current GRML structures allows 2 Directors representing the landowner company GCIL, even if it is the minority shareholder. This is to say that landowners have a direct say about how the company operates, policy matters and participate in important decision makings.
GCIL has spent countless time and resources since 2015 to educate, inform and allow landowners to participate in certain decision-making issues.
Investors have spent over SBD$700m on the project so far, including construction costs and capital expenditures on plant and equipment. The monthly operational cost is SBD$30-40m. GRML monthly expenditure included: payrolls, community awareness activities, community assistance, Site office expenses [including electric and water, Site recommissioning works, Mining construction works, TSF monitoring, road maintenance, rental and other costs. GRML current employs more than 300 locals and around 80 foreigners who are here mostly for the recommissioning phases. A localization process is also in place. In the 1996 agreement with the company, GRCLC representing landowners signed a 80% [local] and 20% [expats] ratio with GRML.