CBSI confirms royalty payment to Turarana landowners

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Central Bank of Solomon Islands. Photo by CBSI
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By EDDIE OSIFELO

CENTRAL Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) has confirmed the $447,000 plus paid to the landowning tribes around Turarana in Central Guadalcanal by WinWin Investment Solomon Ltd is ‘correct’.

This came after the landowners said they were shocked when they received the payment on Thursday 30th December 2021.

This payment comes out from the alluvial mining operation carried out by Win Win since July 2019.

In a letter received by the paper, Enoch Illisia, manager of currency and banking operations department said they further confirm that the total royalties payment receive for consignment 1-20 from the Winwin investment is $1,118,257.08.

Illisia said this is according to the Mines and Mineral (royalties) Regulation 2011, 40 percent is the Royalty Payment to landowners.

“This we confirm that Royalties Payment to Landowners is $447,302.82.

“For any other further details and information please refer to Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification,” he said.

Joel Jackson of Koehoto Landowners Association has written to Customs and Exercise Division to release the gold export data by Winwin in order to inform their people.

However, Alison Boso, Deputy Controller Operation/Revenue told Jackson that you would need to furnish Customs with a Court Order to extract commercial sensitive data from the Customs Data base.

Jackson said the concerned landowners planned to hold a meeting yesterday at Turarana to discuss the future of the company following the royalties payment.

He said they also seeking the company to furnish them with the list of deduction by some landowners from the company to avoid paying them twice when receiving another royalties payment.

Jackson said they could not believe the amount they were paid because the mining tenement is very wide.

Jackson said landowners usually get $600 to $800 a day when they panned for alluvial gold on the tenement.

He said they could not believe they payment because the company was using machines to extract alluvial gold.

According to the royalty sharing, two big tribes, Garavu and Koenahau, got 30 percent each from the $447,000.

As such each tribe received $75, 000 each.

The other two tribes, Lasi and Manukiki, received 20 percent each from the $447,000.

Each tribe collected $50,000.

Jackson said the Garavu tribe would share the $75,000 to the six trustees that signed the Surface Access Agreement with WinWin.

He said each trustee would get $12,500.

Jackson said their representative in one of six trustees would then share the $12,500 among six sub-clans.

Therefore, he said his clan only received $2,000.

“From the $2,000, I have to share it with my people as far as the Weathercoast region.

“Honestly, we could not share the money so we just use it to buy fish for the New Year,” he said.

Jackson said some families did not receive any money from the royalty payment when it was shared among the tribes and clans.

One of the directors of WinWin, Charles Meke said the royalty payments only covered 20 of the 34 shipments.

Meke said there is a shortfall because the company still waiting for confirmation on exchange rate from Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification before it can pay royalty for the outstanding 14 shipments to landowners.

He said during his time with World Bank, they used forex rate, which was standard.

“We are ready to pay, but government is still to confirm the exchange rate.

“We don’t blame the government because we just come out from the festive period,” he said.

According to the current practice of royalty’s payment, the Company pays 3 percent royalties from its gold export to the Government who then is responsible to pay the landowners and the concerned Provincial Governments hosting the operations accordingly.

The 3 percent royalty payment is then proportioned at 50 percent to the Government, 40 percent to the two Turarana Landowner’s Associations and 10 percent to the Guadalcanal Provincial Government.

The company started the trial alluvial mining operation on July 2019.

The trial mining commenced at the Mamasa alluvial flat deposit but was later shifted upstream to the Turarana Area (Kavahambe) after very low gold recoveries (0.15g/cubic meter(cu.m)) were experienced at the Mamasa alluvial flats deposit which is well below break even levels.

After heavy floods that left the Turarana wash plant inundated in October 2019; alluvial mining operations were shifted back to the Mamasa area in November, 2019 while reconstruction of the Turarana wash plant was progressing.

Mining operations were shifted back again to the Turarana wash plant in December 2019 due to improved gold recoveries experienced there.

Up to present time only the Turarana wash plant is currently being worked.

According to the Win Win’s monthly report produced on 10th July 2021 by contracted Geologist, Collin Midobatu, the company has exported a total of 3,258.47 ounce of gold from its last 6th shipment from January to June 2021.

This is worth around $48 million (USD$6million) base on the market prize of US$1,853.00 per ounce.

The export of gold shipment came from its operation at Turarana in Central Guadalcanal.

However, the company could not make any gold shipment from July 2019 to December 2020 as stated in the monthly report released on 10th July 2021.


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