THE 90 Form 4 students from Betikama Adventist College that visited Gold Ridge Mine Tailings Facility this week have expressed different views about their visit.
According to the Head of Science Department Mr. Horrie Raddie the visit was requested because F4 students are currently doing metals, minerals and effects of mining in their Science subject.
“Getting the students to see the dam, the surrounding environment would be a great help to the students concerning their topic – Mining in the Solomon Islands. And I believe they have achieved that”, Raddie said.
It took two days for the two Form 4 classes to visit the Gold Ridge TSF. The first class F4 A visited the site on Tuesday, whilst the second class F4B visited the site on Wednesday 28th April.
Independent Environmental Auditor for the downstream communities, Mr Henry Tobani who coordinated the field trip said “as future leaders of this country it is significant that such field trips are organized for students.
As a former employee of GRML, and someone who is very familiar with the environmental programs of the company, Mr Tobani helped GRML officers made presentations and answered questions about the TSF.
Jesmina Benjamin a Form 4 A student from Western and Malaita provinces said before she came to see the TSF, she thought the TSF was just a small dam. But what she saw was different from what she thought.
“I learnt that the top surface water is just accumulated run offs from the rain and is unnecessary. We were told today that all sediments and slurry are underneath which can be dangerous if disturbed or in the event the dam wall collapses.
When asked which of the four TSF sites visited was the most interesting one, Jesmina said she found the treatment or pumping plant station as the most interesting.
“The different pipes used and the different chemicals used to treat the cyanide and arsenic are interesting because they relate to our science lessons at school”, the Form 4 student said.
Another F4 A student Rensota Sokeni from Western and Choiseul province said he never seen a dam like this before therefore the visit gives him the opportunity to see for himself a tailings dam for the first time.
“One of my observations and what I want to highlight is that we have very clever people around who have the qualifications and right knowledge to design and build such a big infrastructure like the gold ridge TSF. “We were told the dam wall was constructed with natural clay; therefore, I want to commend the Engineers that designed the TSF.
Young Sokeni has an interest in Engineering so hopefully one day he will pursue studies in engineering, and can work in a mining related engineering field.
Form 4 B student Mereata Tebaua from Wagina, Choiseul province said before she came to the TSF she heard about this place because it usually causes a lot of public perception, debate and to an extent unnecessary fear amongst people.
“But from this visit, I witnessed what is happening in the TSF and learnt about the processes the company has to comply with in order to discharge water from the TSF”, she said.
Another F4B student Kuluvai Verese from Western and Malaita province said the interesting thing he learnt was about the different mining systems. “I am amazed at the different systems used in the Gold Ridge Mine especially at the TSF. It is interesting to witness how things are coordinated and carried out. I also admired the work TSF employees.
“Dealing with chemicals is not easy but it is good to see qualified and knowledgeable Solomon Islands doing these jobs at the Gold Ridge TSF, especially to ensure chemicals are mixed properly to meet standards and conditions set out by the Government. “Mining companies are also important for the country’s economy. Mining brings in revenue for the country to meet important social services such as education and health.
Young Kuluvai considered him as lucky to have visited the TSF and witnessed how the TSF deals with chemicals, treat the chemicals and how to release water into the Tinahulu river.
“I’m privileged to visit this site today. I consider myself lucky to have visited the TSF and learn about its systems, processes and standards.
“I encouraged those that have doubts especially downstream communities to visit the TSF so that they can understand what actually happens at the TSF.
“Other students too should visit the TSF so that they see how the different chemicals we learn in the classrooms are used by mining companies”, he said.