The owners of the Gold Ridge mine in Solomon Islands are denying it is polluting the river downstream of the tailings dam.

Earlier this year the Solomon Islands’ parliament heard that villagers along the Metapona River could no longer use the water for drinking, bathing, washing their clothes or fishing - nor could they grow crops along the riverbanks.

But the managing director and chief executive of St Barbara Limited, which owns the subsidiary that operates the mine, Tim Lehany, says if that is the case it is nothing to do with Gold Ridge.

“We’re not contributing to any poisoning, in inverted commas, of the river. As I’ve said, we have an extensive sampling programme, we can demonstrate that we have not contributed to the condition of the river. Greater concern to us are the sanitary conditions in the villages downstream that pollute the river.”

Tim Lehany says any number of things could affect the health of crops.