Mining main driver of Solomons’ economy this year


The Solomon Islands’ mineral production is expected to double this year over last year’s output, according to projections that the country’s Central Bank has put out this week.<!--more-->

The bank reported that recommencement of mining activities last year accounted for a total gold production 51,054 ounces of which 39,429 ounces were exported in 2011. Total silver produced was 19,043 ounces last year. This was despite landowner disturbances such as roadblocks at the big mining sites.

Increased mining activity, in line with the scaling up of production at the Gold Ridge mine is expected to contribute 2.3% of economic growth in 2012.

The upward trend of international gold prices in 2011, averaging US$ 1568 an ounce accounts for 28% increase from the average price of US$ 1225 an ounce the year before. This has generated 0.2% of domestic revenue and accounts for 1.7% of the 10.7% economic growth last year, according to data the bank has released.

Not surprisingly, the mining sector is growing to be one of the country’s biggest employers, with 1166 workers in 2011 – 900 locals and 266 expatriates – represented 2.7% of the estimated Solomon Island workforce.

Some 15 new applications for foreign direct investments in mineral prospecting projects were also received last year and are being considered. Western, Isabel and Guadalcanal provinces were the main target areas for mineral prospecting companies though some companies also showed interest in other provinces.