Angry Isabel landowners ask government to cancel Axiom mining lease on San Jorge over non-payment  

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By Alfred Sasako

 

ANGRY San Jorge landowners on Isabel have formally asked the Government to “suspend or cancel” Axiom KB Ltd’s Mining Licence, accusing the Company of failing to fulfil terms of the Surface Access Agreement (SAA) it signed with landowners last year.

Private law firm, Whitlam K Togamae Lawyers took out a full page paid advertisement on behalf of the landowners in both newspapers yesterday. The advert appeared in the form of an open letter to the Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, Bradley Tovosia, and Chairman of the Mines and Minerals Board, Nicholas Biliki. It was copied to Attorney General John Muria jnr and the Provincial Secretary, Isabel Province.

The advertised highlighted specific SAA clauses, which the lawyer representing the landowners, said Axiom KB Ltd had breached.

It was signed by William K Togamae on behalf of 21 Chiefs who “are the accepted landowners of part of San Jorge Island, Isabel Province, and parties to the Surface Access Agreement with Axiom KB Limited (Axiom), dated 6 March 2018 (Surface Access Agreement)

“We are instructed to advise as follows:

  1. It is a term of the Surface Access Agreement that:
  • In accordance with clause 9.2(a), Axiom shall make payments to our clients in accordance with Appendix 2 of the Surface Access Agreement for the right to access the land;
  • In accordance with clause 9.3, Axiom shall make milestone payments to our client in accordance with Appendix 3 of the Surface Access Agreement for the right to access the land;
  • In accordance with clause 9.4, our clients shall be entitled to hold 20 per cent of the shares of Axiom and Axiom KB Mining Limited, along with other landowners; and
  • In accordance with clause 10, all payments are to be made to the nominated account of our client by Axiom within 15 working days after the end of each quarter,” the open letter advertisement said.

The advertisement said Axiom has breached the terms of the SAA by failing to make payments as well as to transfer 20 per cent of the company shares to the landowners as stipulated under clause 9.3.

The advertisement said landowners are calling on Minister Tovosia and the Mines and Minerals Board to direct Axiom to comply with the terms of the SAA or to say why its Mining Licence should not be suspended or cancelled.

“While it is entirely a matter for you, and the Board, in our view the matters warrant:

  • A direction pursuant to s.6(e) of the Mines and Minerals Act to Axiom to comply with the terms and conditions of the Mining Lease by paying our clients the monies due and issuing them the shares that they are entitled to under the Surface Access Agreement;
  • A show cause notice pursuant to s.71 of the Mines and Minerals Act to Axiom demonstrate why the Mining Lease should not be suspended or cancelled, pending the performance of Axiom’s obligation under the Surface Access Agreement.”

An employee said recently the Company could not meet landowners’ demand for payment because it has been blocked from exporting its shipment of nickel.

“How can the company pay when it has not even exported anything?”, the employee said.

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