FORMER Minister of Mines and Energy Bradley Tovosia has described the ministry as ‘dead’ while denying allegations he has politically interfered with the proposed nickel mining project in Isabel Province.
Tovosia was accused of trying to influence and interfere with the Mines and Minerals Board decision to issue mining licences to at least three Asian nickel mining companies he allegedly had close ties with .
Tovosia, who is the MP for east Guadalcanal, while rebutting these allegations in Parliament on Monday also went on the offensive against officials at the Ministry of Mines.
“I’ve been the minister for mines for one and a half month. That ministry is dead, nothing is happening there.
“Public servants there are not doing any work, they are drinking during official hours.
“We have to say this so that people hear it; hear what is happening in this ministry,” Tovosia said.
The Parliamentary Opposition was also informed that Tovosia summoned officials from the ministry to quickly facilitate the paper works so that he can issue licences to the companies before he was reshuffled to another ministry last week.
Tovosia, however, insisted he respect the leaders and people of Isabel Province and it was always his intention to follow the right process in issuing licences during his short time at the ministry.
“I sent a team down to Isabel to talk with the landowners and resource owners to find out what they want.
“I have also called for meetings in Honiara including the Tripod meeting attended by the three MPs in Isabel and leaders in the province.
“I told these meetings that whatever the resolution they come up with I will make sure whoever is been granted the licence must consider what the people want.
“To give the mining licences to my friends as has been said no, that is not true,” he said.
It is understood that the position of the Nickel Mine Committee and the leaders of Isabel Province is to recognise the partnership with the Government and that granting of licences must be done with due diligence and through appropriate procedures.
BY PHILIP LILOMO