Mining company to meet opposing landowners

Turarana river, where the WinWin mining company is operating.
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MINING company, Win Win Investment Ltd is preparing to meet with the Turarana Landowners Taskforce and other leaders at the Henderson Police Post conference room from 10am to 12 noon today.

This is despite the company not recognizing the existence of Taskforce as it was set up outside the 24 trustees of Turarana area, where Win Win signed the Surface Access Agreement and Surface Access Rights Agreement with them.

The so-called Taskforce called the meeting for the company to clarify outstanding issues and due payments need to be settled relating to the mining operation on the Turarana tenement.

The taskforce said failure to meet with them tomorrow, then the  company expects to see all four tribes stage a road block on 13th July, which is the deadline of the 14 days’ notice issued on 29th June to Win Win.

In a letter sent to the Managing Director of Win Win mining Company Ltd on 1st July, the four landowning tribes (Garavu, Lasi, Koe’naho and Manuki), tribes who claim to own the Turarana tenement where the company is operating, agreed on this during their extra ordinary meeting held at Turarana village on Wednesday 30th June.

Some of the log of claims which are due payments are:

  1. Premium – $26,000 (Surface Access Agreement)
  2. Access fee – $250,000 (SAA)
  3. Rental payments – $1,000/square kilometer multiply 12 square kilometer – (2018-2021)
  4. Campsite payment – $3,000 per month from 2018-2021
  5. Pits
  6. Damages

The Turarana taskforce said the 20 trustees are not chosen or appointed by the four tribes but have been appointed by certain individuals not the tribe.

The taskforce said their appointment should be regard as null and void.

The taskforce said a tribal meeting should be conducted as soon as possible for the four tribes to appoint six new representatives to represent each tribe.

Further to that, the Taskforce want to know the update of the report of gold extracted from 2018-2021, as so far, no report had reached the Koehoto Landowners Association (KLA) Chairman.

Further to that, the taskforce wants to see the financial report for advances received by each tribe from 2018-2021 and other payments.

The taskforce also wants to see company’s representative, Jeremy Rex be terminated from the company once and for all if it wants to continue operation.

Moreover, the Taskforce claimed the management of Win Win mining company Ltd is illegally selling the following items:

  1. Brewing of rice wine (alcohol) from 2017-2021
  2. Selling of mobile phones, cigarettes and chicken
  3. Sale of uniform to employee and security torch.

The taskforce also wants to see Charles Meke remove as Director of Win Win Investment Solomon Ltd because he is not a landowner but comes from Gela.

The taskforce wants an indigenous landowner to be the shareholder and not Meke.

Furthermore, the taskforce wants to know why the company issued a machine used for bricks to Member of Parliament for East Guadalcanal, Braddley Tovosia.

The taskforce wants the immediately return of the machine for the beneficiary of landowners.

However, Elemelek Vamule, mines officer in the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification confirmed the royalty payments of the landowners are still with Central Bank of Solomon Islands.

Vamule said CBSI can only release the payments once the landowners sorted out their land boundaries and open a bank account.

He said so far there were 19 shipments of the minerals made so far and the company overseas has already paid eight shipments to CBSI.

Vamule said this is in accordance with Mines and Mineral Act that payments must be made within three months on the day of shipment.

Further to that, he said regarding information of the company’s operation, no one can access it because of its confidentiality and its property.

Vamule said under the Mines and Mineral Act, the ministry cannot issue the information of the company until it loses its tenement and move out after three months.

One of the Directors of Win Win, Charles Meke said Bred Bank is willing to help open accounts for the company, 24 trustees and the employees.

Meke said work is ongoing to sort out the land boundaries on the tenement as well.

Win Win legal counsel, Whitlam Togamae said under the country’s law, the mineral belongs to the government.

He said the Ministry of Mines controls it through regulations and the royalties goes through CBSI before landowners get their shares.

Togamae said it is not like logging where the landowners own the trees.

Further to that, he said the law only recognize the trustees to deal with the company and no one else.

Togamae said this is because the trustees signed the SAA and SARA with the company to invite it for mining.

Moreover, Guadalcanal Police has warned youths on Turarana not to stage protest because it will be illegal and they could be arrested for their actions.

Win Win has extracted alluvial deposits on the stream beds of Mamasa and Turarana to get the minerals, especially gold.

The company started operations on Mamasa in October 2019, however the company discovered the tenement had low alluvial deposits on its stream beds.

Win Win is now operating on Turarana which is believed to have high alluvial deposits.