Gov’t comes under fire after Minister indicates objections to fragments of Nickel Project

Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Culwick Togamana
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By Gary Hatigeva

THE Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG) yesterday, came under heavy criticism after one of its ministers spoke out in objection to one of the government’s policy initiations on the Nickel Mining Project in Isabel Province

Minister of Environment and Meteorology and Member of Parliament for Maringe/Kokota expressed his disagreements with current drive the government is initiating to have the Nickel Mining Project get underway.

In his contribution to the Nickel Project issue, which was put under question in Parliament by the Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga, Matthew Wale, the Isabel MP suggested for the government to delay its processes on getting the projects started and wait for a better time when prices are stable to get the maximum benefits, but said in strong words his utmost objection to certain aspects of exporting the minerals.

“The likelihood of processing nickel on shore is very slim and so we will be left with one option, and that is to go for direct shipment of ore, certainly, the country will not stand to benefit from that and I as Member of Parliament from Isabel province, do not approve that,” the Environment Minister and Maringe/Kokota MP stressed.

MP Dr Culwick Togamana added that in terms of when the government would want the project to commence, “as we have heard from the Minister, now”.

“But note that the price of Nickel is down at its lowest and the sizes of our ores are very small and nonrenewable

“If we were to maximise the economic returns from those, then we will have to wait until the price of nickel goes up

“As it is now, if we start to do mining now, we are not going to get the most if we were to try to optimize economic returns from mining

However, following the Environment Minister’s statement the Aoke/Langalanga MP made a strong call on the Prime Minister to ensure cabinet thoroughly go through all its businesses before taking them to public.

He said this is to avoid making the scenario look as if the government come in differences and gone to argue over matters in parliament.

“It looks like you have not discuss this matters on the government level and so we see the member and minister of environment, who will issue the development permit seemed to have disagreed with the position taken by the minister for mines who is responsible for the activities and licences and so Prime Minister, I think this is a matter you need to sort out,” Wale pointed out.

Wale strongly reminded the PM and his ministers that the country needs the mines up and running and running in the best possible sustainable exploitation in the resources with a good distribution framework for all landowners to benefit from and not to repeat what continues to be experienced in the logging industry.