Mining battle in Santa Cruz

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THE mining battle in Temotu province has been a heated controversy ever since an investor has shown interest in the mining industry to carry out prospecting for bauxite on approximately 60 square kilometres of land on the south-wes5t of Santa Cruz Island. The battle was extremely hot and tense around mid of last year. However, anybody in his right mind could have opted not to intervene un procedurally, formulate any illegal groupings to distract potential development aspirations and disrespect the dignity of all parties involved if he is certain that he has no legal or customary rights whilst consultations and dialogue between Temotu provincial government (TPG), pacific bauxite (PB) and legal landowners (LOS) was underway.

However, the recent incident which occurred at lata airport on December 17, 2017 whereby a team of local professionals who work for PB were confronted upon disembarkation, threatened and were ordered and forced to embark or board the same plane on its return flight to Honiara by so-called legal advisor, has prompted me to mediate through media since some people exasperate and are taking the law into their own hands.

The actions displayed by Ruddy Oti which caught the eyes of many airport bystanders including the provincial premier that Sunday morning could have been termed as unlawful.

Now, may I call on you, Oti and your cohorts, to start making your roof top rigid should there be a natural calamity coming your way because when that day comes, you will be tried in order to justify your unlawful actions at the airport and other negative influences pertaining to this issue. By then, the whole world will wait to see how well you could exert your legal powers to protect yourself. Otherwise lata correctional centre has to increase its quarterly order by a percent of Solrais in order to have you fed for few months in the facility.

At this point in time, am obliged to stand tall under the umbrella body of Temotu Province, the Nendo Community where I’m a member of by customary and legal rights and observers to the ongoing controversy with neutrality to clear a primary doubt whereby more than 90 percent of the rural populace hang over their heads. And that is differentiating prospecting and mining.

Prospecting is searching for gold or other minerals whilst mining is the actual excavation and extraction of these minerals whereby heavy plant machineries and equipment are involved. Any local company in this case can carry out prospecting on this concerned land as they have the capacity and expertise to do so. This is not restricted or confined to overseas companies only. Now, when we talk about mining, this is different and very expensive thing altogether as it requires millions of dollars to carry out such a huge project. Even our government would have deficit if it tries to run a mining company.

Now, in our case, pacific Bauxite is an investor and a prospecting company, not mining company. It has acquired its prospecting licence (PL) from the Ministry of Mines and Energy and business license (BL) from provincial government (TPG) to search or explore the potentials of our land and not to mine it.

Regarding the blatant lies outlined in a report posted through the guardian in July, 2017, it has not only succumbed landowners, TPG and the investors to a pause and disappointment but rather tarnishing prominent investors’ dignity and reputation. Investors who abide to and are guided by the laws of this country. Investor ‘who are transparent, procedural, accountable and worth-giving to the community tangible developments for their rural livelihoods.

Now, I would like you, Mr Chris Bone to deliberate on these questions;

  1. Where about in Temotu have you assisted under the so-called NGO entity, Ocean Watch and to what extent?
  2. Since you came into this country through Vanuatu by yacht, did you dare to have ocean Watch registered with the Foreign Investment Board (FIB)?
  3. Have you realised that entering another country without proper immigration permit as illegal?
  4. And did you care to acquire legal export permit to ship out coconut virgin oil and the rare species of bird you’ve taken from Tina Kula?

Now, if you are not answerable to the above questions, then it is advisable that you quit from interfering with any issues pertaining to land owning groups and Temotu Province.

Likewise, when someone claims himself as a Legal Advisor, as in the case of Ruddy Oti, he must be a brainy figure in reasoning things. One whose analytical skills are well-focused and the legality of every piece of information are accurate and precise.

However, if you have been pulled by the nose all along by someone whom you know very little about and cannot diagnose or evaluate his personal interest and hidden agendas, then I beg you to refrain or terminate any possible relationship between you and the expat concerned. This is because there is not and never will there be any potential development contributed to Temotu Province by Chris Bone.

On the same note, if you had received any penny out of your blatant lies to convince the true landowners in a confusing manner, then what help would you render to these people regarding their land resources?

To put things straight, the allegations constituted by Mr Bone and Ruddy Oti In their issue concerned have no fundamental proof. Therefore, being a member of the said community myself with neutrality, I would like to make some clarifications and draw a clear picture pertaining to the subject matter that;

  1. The consultations that have taken place between land owning groups and the investor was merely about exploration and not mining as one might think. This is all about providing us, land owners with free evaluation of our land. By then, we may be able to determine the potential for mineral resources in our land, during the course of this free land evaluation, we will benefit from abundant services that the National Government cannot adequately deliver to our door steps and the province because of our very minimal contribution towards our country’s economy in terms of resources compared to other provinces.

 

  1. The investor, Pacific Bauxite has fulfilled all requirements under Solomon Islands law which is the honourable process of doing it and they deserve it. The granting of both the PL by the ministry responsible and the provincial BL by TPG have no strings, whatsoever attached to.

 

 

  1. During the reconnaissance permit, Pacific Bauxite along with AU Capital who owns a fifty percent in total shares has donated some very expensive but essential medical equipment’s to Lata hospital and Educational materials to several schools around Lata.

“I don’t think other investors apart from Pacific Bauxite could easily spend thousands of dollars just for medical and educational facilities without taking away our natural resources. Unlike logging, Asians come in through the window, slash down all our trees, mesh up the land and its vegetation, get away with the logs and leaves us behind, only with the bark. And that is something we should all be proud of and show the investor our appreciation.”

 

  1. Pacific Bauxite also do have policies in all place to allow maximum benefits to the lo0cal community in terms of training and employment opportunities if we are to allow our land to be explored and evaluated at no cost at all, Remember?

Lastly, let me caution you rightful landowners, not to let yourselves be over shadowed and manipulated by these few people who do not understand what prospecting is all about and tend to call themselves anti-miners. They intervene only to deprive you from the potential developments and your rights to become beneficiaries of your own resources.

And bear in mind that, no matter how many times we would say ‘NO’ to any sort of exploration of mining initiatives, just bear in mind that a time will come when these things will happen since we are living in a developing world.

BY JIM KHALIR

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