Given the recent false and misleading media reporting, GRML Management is obliged to set records straight on the unfortunate incident at Gold Ridge Tailings Storage Facility [TSF] on 14th April 2021, as follows:
1. GRML takes its social and environmental responsibilities very seriously and has been engaging internationally well known consultancy firms in managing the social and environmental risks associated with the TSF specifically and project development more generally.
2. Managing the TSF environmental and safety risks has been our top priority. Since 2018, we have implemented continuous monitoring and testing program, have maintained the water treatment plant to conduct treated dewatering operations when required, have constructed flood diversion channel to prevent rainwater from entering the TSF, and have put in place a fully functional spillway structure that allows controlled dewatering to ensure TSF safety.
3. GRML’s ongoing water quality tests in the TSF, Chovohio & Tinahulu are done both locally at the Public Health Laboratory and overseas at the Australian Laboratory Services.
4. Besides the company, there have been ongoing independent monitoring, inspections and testing being carried out by the MMERE and MECDM on GRML mine recommissioning activities including the management of the TSF.
5. As the TSF has not been operative for more than 6 years, TSF supernatant water testing results have consistently shown no cyanide and baseline arsenic levels.
6. The unfortunate incident occurred when GRML sought to be technically ready for an emergency dewatering should the TSF water level continue to rise posing safety risks. As it was a technical readiness testing, the environmental footprint of the incident had been strictly controlled including water volume, flowrate and sediment controls.
7. The unfortunate discharge of water was a misunderstanding between the concerned Engineer about a decision reached on 12th April 2021 between the company and the 3 Associations, namely KTDA, MDA and GRCLA. That
the 3 Association Executive members agreed to visit the new Spillway on 14th Gold Ridge Mining Limited April together with the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Mines, Guadalcanal Provincial Government and other stakeholders. This visit was to allow the company to demonstrate how the new Spillway works and to clear some doubts amongst members of KDTA, MDA and GRCLA.
8. To reduce the TSF water level, GRML has been carrying out treated discharging from its treatment plant, and there are no plans as yet to continue the emergency dewatering.
9. Experienced monitors are engaged from the local downstream communities to monitor different locations from the outlet right down to the Metapono sea for any sighting of contaminations.
10. GRML welcomes the concerns raised by TSI and others but believes in the execution of fighting corruption and corruption advocacy, it is important to use facts and not assumptions. For example, TSI has never acknowledged the
ongoing consultations and meetings with the Downstream communities, namely the KTDA and MDA catchment communities. GRML welcomes questions from TSI and other Media organizations.
11. TSI misled the public when it says some workers of the company dug a runway for the tailings dam to find its way out into the river. For that and other points TSI raised, GRML would also like to clarify the following facts:
12. GRML has a duty of care for the environment it operates in therefore has taken this incident seriously to avoid repetition in the future.
13. As a developer of a project that is of national importance, GRML’s mission is: