POLICE deployed 50 officers to the Gold Ridge mine site in Central Guadalcanal following the escalation of law and order problem in the area.
The situation resulted in Gold Ridge Mining Limited evacuating all its expatriate staff to Honiara on Wednesday.
The workers, including Gold Ridge Mining Ltd (GRML) general manager Stean Barrie are now taking shelter at the Pacific Casino Hotel, awaiting their flights back to Australia.
In a statement issued Wednesday night, St Barbara’s managing director and chief executive Bob Vassie said:
“GRML has safely withdrawn all personnel from its Gold Ridge mine following a serious escalation in security and associated safety concerns.
“The company is liaising with local authorities.
“Once the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force is able to confirm that security has been re-established at Gold Ridge, a return to site will be assessed.”
Operations at Gold Ridge were suspended in April this year due to torrential rainfall and ensuing flooding.
Mr Vassie said the Company has been unable to resume production due to a number of factors beyond its control, including the loss of stable bridge access across the Tinahulu River on the public road to site, and the continued presence of large numbers of illegal miners camped in the open pit mining areas.
He said since returning to site in June, the company has focused on site stabilisation works and lowering the water levels in the tailings storage facility.
Expatriate workers staying at Pacific Casino Hotel said only their boss Mr Barrie is allowed to make public comments on their evacuation.
Mr Barrie was not available when the Solomon Star visited the hotel.
Local workers confirmed to the Solomon Star there has been some looting and threats at the site.
Acting assistant police commissioner of National Capital, Gabriel Manelusisaid police are now at the mine site providing security.
He said that about 50 officers were deployed to the mine site to look after the assets and properties there.
“Police will maintain its operation on the site and will arrest those who want to take advantage of the situation,” Mr Manelusi said.
He appealed to the landowners to respect the law and stop causing problems.
By STEPHEN DI’ISANGO