Gold miner St Barbara Limited announced last Friday that it plans on reducing its workforce at the Gold Ridge mine on the Solomon Islands, claiming that a return to full-scale production would not be possible for “some time”.
The company suspended operations at Gold Ridge in the beginning of April after heavy rain and subsequent flooding caused considerable damage to the site and access roads. At the time, a force majeure was declared and still remains in place.
According to the ASX announcement, the company had a team on site mid-June “performing assessment and stabilisation work.”
The assessment has shown that numerous factors are hindering the restart of the operations, such as the Tinahulu Bridge, which requires engineering reconstruction before heavy loads can be transported from and to the site.
The hundreds illegal miners that are encamped in the open pit operations are another factor, as is the necessity to lower the water levels at the tailings storage facility.
Once these obstacles are overcome, gold processing can resume. As far as when this could be, the company did not provide a definite answer.
The workforce will be slashed in accordance with the current scale of activity.
“St Barbara and GRML greatly appreciate the patience and support of all Gold Ridge personnel and stakeholders. GRML has continued to pay the entire Gold Ridge workforce since the suspension of operations in early April. However, in view of a return to full scale production now not being possible for quite some time, GRML is reducing its workforce to levels more appropriate for the current scale of activities,” said Bob Vassie, Managing Director and CEO of St Barbara Limited.
“In the short term, work at Gold Ridge, subject to Government approval being received, will focus on dewatering the tailings storage facility and maintaining the processing plant and infrastructure.”
The company will provide further details in the June 2014 Quarterly Report to be release on 31 July 2014.