MINING ROW BREWS UP ON SAN JORGE

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A drilling operation on San Jorge Island.
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By EDDIE OSIFELO

ANOTHER row over resources is brewing on the resource-rich island of San Jorge in Isabel Province.

This time, it’s over minerals.

It comes as the long-running legal battle over the island’s rare tubi trees between resource owners and Asian loggers lie unresolved before the courts.

In this latest dispute, two Asian funded mining companies backed by rival landowners were at each other over rights to mine the island.

Yesterday, San Jorge Island Resource Owners Association Trust Board hit out at a Ben Devi, who attacked East Resources Company Limited in a paid article published in this paper.

The Trust Board is a shareholder in East Resources Company Ltd.

Devi, who represents Vihuvunagi Tribal group, claimed Far East Resources Company Limited directors have announced that once the Mines and Mineral Board issued their Letter of Intent, all their machines will arrive from overseas.

Devi, who works for Solomon Islands Resources Company Limited (SIRCL), that is owned by the director of Win Win mining company, said this is cheap in the making and mockery of our government, and the landowners.

“There must be a stop to this and my tribe do not have doubt of our position.

“We will welcome Far East Resource Company Limited, even if we take such a position, this company is incapable of conducting anything,” Devi said.

He said its sister company, who shared the same director/shareholders – Golden Star Resources Ltd, cannot even dig up a mount of dirt on its PL-02/21 at Hograno.

Furthermore, Devi said East Resources Company Limited is not welcomed and in the event that it pushed its way, his tribe will not support and will not execute any Surface Access Agreement (SAA).

However, chairman of San Jorge Island Resource Owners Association Trust Board, William Tohidi said they do not know anybody by the name of Ben Devi.

“To correct your statement Ben Devi, Mines and Minerals Board has met to discuss Far East resource companies’ application over South San Jorge Tenement on 28th July 2022,” Tohidi said.

“This would determine the Letter of Intent (LOI) for negotiations.  To grant Prospecting License without having LOI is unprocedural,” he added.

Tohidi said Devi’s allegations are only disturbing and have no standing on the claims he made.

“We know very well that Ben Devi works with SIRC since day one until the original SIRC sold its company share to Win Win mining company.

“Ben Devi has been working with various mining companies who have been operating in the past, yet he does not use those experiences to negotiate well for the people,” he said.

Tohidi said his Trust Board is a registered association and it represents three tribal groups who reside at Talise village, as well as the nearby villages who are close tribal members.

“We know very well the claims by south San Jorge so-called landowners who are not members of our association.

“They are pushing away our interest and want to push in theirs with the backing of Win Win.

“Devi must know that it is first come first serve policy that Far East shows interest on south San Jorge tenements, and submitted its application to the Mines and Mineral Board.

“May I call on him to refrain from the misleading letter to the Mines and Mineral Board.

“Let the board deliberate on its requirement and its findings.”

He said San Jorge Island Resource Owners Association Trust Board will not accept any company that bypasses its authority.

“We are well represented by the three tribal members who inherit the land called San Jorge Island.

“This is land passed on to us by our ancestors, and we lived and depend on it.

 “We wish to assure Ben Devi that if Far East is given the LOI, the process to negotiate with landowners will be done according to the process and requirements of the Mining Act and regulations.”  


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