MINER’S CLOUDY PAY-OUT

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Former Mines Director Nicholas Biliki. PHOTO: SIBC
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Former mines chief says payment is for his boat

By EDDIE OSIFELO

FORMER Director of Mines, Nicholas Biliki says $160,000 gold miners Win Win Mining Investment Ltd paid to him was for his new boat.

Win Win, a Chinese company, accused Biliki of receiving the payment after he exposed them in September of attempting to smuggle 1.7 kilograms of gold worth $700,000 out of the country in 2019.

“This is a payment for my boat,” Biliki told the Island Sun yesterday after recipients of the payments were posted on social media.

“I have an agreement for Win Win to pay my new boat,” he added.

Biliki said the company is trying to twist the story after he exposed their illegal dealings.

“If you look at the receipts, they are for my new boat.

“I have the hard evidence and photos of our meeting,” he said.

However, one of the local directors of Win Win, Charles Meke said there is no agreement.

“He lied to us.

“He borrowed from us,” Meke claimed.

According to SIBC, the Solomon Islands Customs intercepted and confiscated the gold samples at the Henderson International Airport.

Biliki earlier said the gold samples were intentionally spray-painted to look like ground samples for test analyses abroad.

One of the local directors of Win Win, Charles Meke has confirmed that the incident happened.

“We used to send mineral samples abroad for analyses. And after the incident happened, we are now using the Ministry’s lab for examination.”

Asked why they keep sending samples abroad instead of using the Ministry’s Geochemical lab, he said the company was not aware of the lab.

The samples were returned to the miners, and later allegedly stolen by robbers wearing Police Uniforms who raided the Win Win Mining premises in late 2020.

Biliki earlier said the smuggling officer has never been prosecuted under the country’s laws.

The leaked documents as well as Meke confirmed the gold has been returned to Win-win mining.

Following the confiscation, the two samples were analyzed at the Ministry of Mines Geochemical Laboratory which turned out to be 1.7Kg pure gold.

The leaked analysis documents dated January 6, 2020, revealed two samples were analyzed weighing up to 836.39g and 873.69grams respectively. 

The samples contained around 97and 98% of pure gold.

Furthermore, Biliki said following continuous serious breaches of the Mines and Minerals Act, by the company, the Mines and Mineral Board proposed to suspend or cancel the operation in early 2020.

But this never happens.

“This is a very serious offense to commit under the Mines and Minerals Act and other relevant SIG legislations.

“Win Win must prepare to face the consequences if further actions are taken. This incident has tarnished the confidence SIG has in this project and those who manage it.”

The explanation provided here clearly reveals the intent the company has to defraud the Government system, Biliki stated in his recommendation letter last year as a Director.

The Board prepared a ‘Show Cause Notice’ to cancel the operation.

However, he said, political pressure and involvement on the issue, has been a major setback to pursue canceling their Mining Lease during his time.

The leaked documents revealed, a ‘Show Cause Notice’ has been issued by the Mines and Mineral Board outlining many serious breaches by Win Win Mining.

“The Notice never reached the miners, instead, it was left to collect dust at the Attorney General’s Office, for the whole of last year”, Mr. Biliki said.

He said, after waiting for a year, his office took an initiative to revisit the ‘Show Cause Notice’, but from top-level political pressure, the notice again never reached the miners.

“Instead of submitting the notice to the company, my office was directed from the top to only give a chance for the miners, with an understanding they have to improve on their failures and allow them to continue with the operations. I am not happy with this decision.”

Meanwhile, a response from Win Win Mining in a leaked document dated April 23, 2021, confirmed it will comply with the decision by the government as their gold samples have returned.

 “The samples retained by Customs had since been returned to us after almost 1 year of custody.

“The returned samples are intended for resending but were unfortunately stolen during the Camp robbery of 9th December 2020.”

Police reports claimed late last year, December 9, 2020, a group of men entered the Win-Win Gold Mining Company premises in Central Guadalcanal and removed two gold bars each weighing 3 kilograms and 1.7 kilograms respectively.

Police Commissioner Mostyn Mangau confirmed three of the 11 suspects have been arrested, now on bail awaiting court.

Biliki has now been removed as Director of mines under conditions that he has reached his retirement age as of last month.


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