BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
NENDE people call on the Government to stand ground over being challenged by the decision of the Mines Minister to cancel prospecting licence PL 01/16 over Nende Island in a Judicial Review Case.
Challenging the decision is Eight South Investment Pty Ltd in relation to High Court Case 224/18.
The landowners of Nende in their Press Release do not want the Government to succumb to ploy of Eight South Investment Pty Ltd for an out of Court settlement as noted in the mining company’s Report to Aus Stock exchange market on August 1, 2018 that there is a discussion on the arrangement with the Solomon Islands Government.
Nende people were aware that the cancellation was done by the Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE) Hon Bradley Tovosia in virtue of lawful cause and basis of which was set out in the cancellation letter by him being dated May 24, 2018, addressed to the Company.
“We landowners understand that the Minister exercised his powers under S71 (1), (a) and (b) of the Mines & Mineral Act to cancel the PL 01/16. In doing so by virtue of the operation of the relevant section conveyed in the cancellation letter that renders the PL01/16 null and void in its entirety.
“It is therefore relevant and appropriate at this moment to call on the Government that should the mining Company wish to challenge the cancellation of the PL 01/16, they should proceed with the judicial review case HC CC 224/18 as set out in s71(5) of the Mines & Mineral Act as the only avenue to challenge Ministers decision.
“Based on these observations, we landowners feel the Government should not give in to the mining company for an out of Court settlement as this would be in breach of s71(5) of the Act and further complicate the situation on the ground.
“We further note the Ministry of mines officials are on tour at Santa Cruz/Nende conducting awareness. While this is a statutory obligation of the Government, it is equally important to note and to acknowledge the sensitivity nature of this issues at this point in time hence, the need to thread carefully on core matters incidental to this issue.
“On that same note, we call on the Government not to invite any new application for reconnaissance and prospecting permit in Nende,” said Nende Landowners.
As stated in the cancellation letter also by the Minister of Mines on May 24, 2018 addressing it to the mining company, “Clause 8 of the Special Conditions (Third Schedule) of your prospecting licence states that in the event where the owners, occupiers or inhabitants of the area of your prospecting licence object the presence or the operations of the holder, the holder shall not enter, prospect or carryout operations in the area until amicable relationship have first been restored”.
“I thank you for your response to my letter of Show Cause which you failed to include a date and signature,” said Hon Tovosia to the Managing Director of AU Capital Mining Pty Ltd/Eight South Investment sighted in the letter.
“I have viewed your response to my letter of Show Cause and I would like to advice you that the issuance of the prospecting licence, PL 01/16, to your company was made after in pursuant to Section 19 a) and b) of the Mines and Minerals Act 1990 (the Act), the Minister was satisfied that you have the adequate financial resources, technical competence and experiences to carry out effective prospecting operations and that your prospecting programme is adequate for prospecting.
“Your rights and obligations as a prospecting license holder are clearly outlined in Sections 26 and 27 of the Act. The progress of your prospecting activities as indicated in your quarterly reports is not satisfactory.
“Therefore, as Minister responsible with the powers conferred to me under Section 71 (1), (a) and (b) of the Act, I hereby inform you that your prospecting license, PL 01/16, over Nende Island at Temotu Province is hereby cancelled and effective immediately.”
Attempts to get comment from Eight South Investment Pty Ltd yesterday were not possible.