LOs question Mines Minister over Asian company

By Gary Hatigeva

LANDOWNERS of the Kolosori Tenement in Isabel province have raised concerns on how the investors are being considered to mine areas within the province.

In a strong worded self-explanatory letter to the Minister of Mines, Bradley Tovosia, the landowning group expressed concerns and their position on the government’s proposal to issue a Letter of Intent (LOI) to an Asian Company.

The Kolosori Landowners Association (KLA) said they are very concerned after they learnt of an Asian company being a very strong contender to be issued with the LOI to mine the Kolosori Tenement.

The landowning group also highlighted in their letter that they were never consulted or given any courtesy by the investor to register its interest on their land.

The group however requested for the minister to delay the issuance of the LOI over Kolosori Tenement for a little while as they are still in talks with one of the other two companies while at the same time, meeting with other potential investors.

This revelation however puts to question the Mines Minister’s statement made on the floor of Parliament where he boldly acknowledged the status in which the Isabel Nickel Project is currently in when questioned.

The Minister also stated that his office is now holding consultations with what he described as genuine investors that have been identified for the three tenements on the Island, two of which are Asian companies.

However, the landowning group in their letter, which was also copied to the Prime Minister, his Deputy and the Leader of Opposition including other senior government officials, claimed that the Chinese company earmarked to operate on their land is in fact a logging company – not a miner.

The group said as representatives and a body that oversees the interests of the people regarding their resources, it feels it is the right time to start actively involved in equity based joint-venture arrangement with any investor.

“We want to maximise the benefits of our resources and are currently dialoguing with Axiom mining company to strike a deal.”

With this, the Kolosori Landowners Association stressed that it is an agenda they are looking to resolve within 30 days.

“As you would appreciate, Honourable Minister for any harvesting (or exploitations) of common-pool resources, example fisheries, minerals, forestry and others, to be successful, it has to take an integrate management approach.

“This means it has to involve key stakeholders and one of which is us the PLOs. In other words it should involve key stakeholders communicating (consulting, dialogue, negotiating and consulting).

“This will develop common understanding among the groups, common goals, equal/fair benefits and it helps prevent disputes.

“Unfortunately, it appears the way things are done depicts features of a top-down approach (imposing) that may not advance this development; which is not in the best interest of the country,” the KLO stated in their letter,” the letter pointed out.

Meanwhile, the Association reiterated that the KLA as principal landowners to the Kolosori tenements want to be involved and be partners to the proposed Isabel Nickel Development project.

The group then called on the government and stakeholders to be inclusive in the dealings, especially with regards to issuance of LOI from the beginning.

They said their objection to the current arrangement does not mean they don’t want development to take place, “in fact we want this project to kick off as soon as possible and addressing the above concerns,” the Association further adds.

Comments are being sought from Tovosia.

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