Does this unnamed company meet legal requirements to fell and export?
By Alfred Sasako
AN unnamed foreign logging company is allegedly extracting sawn timber just west of Honiara without meeting prerequisite legal requirements, an investigation by Island Sun has uncovered.
The unnamed company is allegedly rushing to export its first 3,000 cubic metre log shipment today before authorities were aware of what is going on.
Photographic evidence obtained by Island Sun revealed the Kakabona river banks have been stripped clean to make way for storing the company’s sawn timber ready for export.
The company began loading its sawn timber yesterday.
The company’s lightning operation only began during the Christmas/New Year period, according to those familiar with it, allegedly using four elderly landowners to give their consent.
The photographs obtained by Island Sun show the operation has cut deep into a concession owned by Success Company Ltd, which has called on the Commissioner of Forests, Reeves Moveni to cancel the shipment and seize all machines and equipment for alleged illegal operation.
“The company has never held any public hearings, which is a legal requirement before any logging operations can commence,” Island Sun was told.
The photographs have shown serious damages have been done to the stream where villages in the area used for collecting drinking water.
“Today, the entire stream is filled with mud sludge because of what this company had done to the environment. The people in the area are not even aware if the Ministry of Environment and Conservation had issued a 30-day notice before the logging operations began,” sources close to the operation told Island Sun.
“The Minister of Forest and Research and the Minister of Environment and Conservation should go there to see what the operation has done to the people’s drinking water,” one suggested.
They said both Kakabona and Eden Bay – a popular beach for picnic on weekends – have also been affected.
Meanwhile another company, Solomon Mining Ltd, is allegedly engaged in felling without licence. It is allegedly struggling to export a shipment of round logs this week.
Solomon Mining Ltd is registered on July 15, 2013, according to the Foreign Investment Division of the Ministry of Commerce, Industries, Immigration and Labour.
The Directors and owners of SML are: Martin Lee Chi Ming (United Kingdom) – 70 percent, Robert Matthew Yuen (United States) – 30 percent.
According to the Ministry, the company’s approved business activities are:
- Mining & Quarrying
- Manufacture of wood & of products of wood
- Forestry & logging – Activity class – Silviculture & other forestry activities, this is further defined as engaging in buying of timbers & selling directly to buyers. They are not allowed to engage in timber felling.
Solomon Mining Ltd was engaged in a number of other activities including water bottling in Temotu Province.
Santa Cruz Mineral Water Ltd was registered with the Foreign Investment on September 13, 2016. The company is jointly owned by Solomon Mining Ltd SI (Incorp) 70 percent and Nebo Investment (SI) 30 percent.
Business activities of Santa Cruz Mineral Water Ltd is manufacturing of drinking water.
The Company is still registered with the Foreign Investment Division of the Ministry of Commerce, Industries Labour and Immigration.