St Barbra in halt over Solomons flooding

Gold miner St Barbara has placed its shares in a trading halt as it assesses damage at its troubled Gold Ridge operations after widespread flooding in the Solomon Islands.

The Pacific nation was lashed by rain last week and its capital Honiara saw its main river burst its banks, sweeping away entire communities, bringing down bridges and inundating the downtown area.

At least are reported 16 dead and tens of thousands are homeless.

St Barbara's shares last changed hands for 28 cents on Friday, a day after it told the market Gold Ridge had experienced more than 500mm and rain was continuing to fall.

It was the equivalent of the average monthly rainfall in a 36-hour period.

St Barbara closed the open pit mines to ensure the safety of personnel and equipment, while the access road to the mine was closed due to flooding.

Gold Ridge was acquired by St Barbara in its $556 million friendly takeover of Allied Gold, but the market reaction has been nothing short of savage with St Barbara shares plummeting from $2.10 when the deal was announced in June 2012.

The biggest fall in the gold price in three decades also hit St Barbara hard last year.

Operational issues have been ongoing for Gold Ridge, which reported sky-high all-in sustaining costs of $2273/oz in the December quarter.

St Barbara said it was bringing down those costs after completing a plant upgrade in November to reduce downtime and increase gold recoveries to 70 per cent.

The West Australian

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