New Asian Mining Company press charges against angry landowners


The New Asian Mining Company is pressing charges against landowners who reportedly demanded compensation and threatened some workers of the company with knives in Manakwai, East Malaita, recently. 

The company claims that these actions violate Section 79 (b) of the Mines and Mineral Act 1990, which states that unlawfully interfering with or obstructing any holder of a permit, license, or lease, or their servants and agents in the exercise of their rights acquired under this Act, is an offence. 

The offenders may face a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or imprisonment for up to twelve months, or both.

The company management expressed sadness over the involvement of a police officer based in Atori in the incident, who was supposed to keep law and order within the communities as expected of him. He should have resolved to have a dialogue with the Auluta Landowners Association on internal land matters.  

However, they criticised the Solomon Star for what they perceived as biased reporting, as the reporter failed to obtain the company’s perspective on the matter.

Solomon Star claimed according to sources on the ground, some of the legitimate land-owning tribes have recently become aware of the reality surrounding the New Asian Mining Company Ltd prospecting activities in East Malaita and have taken matters into their own hands. 

It has been reported that individuals used fake names to sign the Surface Access Agreement (SAA) for land that does not belong to them.

Last week, an Asian worker employed by New Asian Mining Company Ltd accompanied by the Chairman and some members of Auluta Landowners Association was allegedly threatened with knives and forced to pay $3,000 in spot compensation to the landowners after collecting mineral samples from a location called Makakwai. 

Workers left as work intended was completed and returned to Honiara for preparation for the next phase of the prospecting programme.

The sources warned that the issues surrounding the presence of New Asian Mining in East Malaita are highly sensitive due to the dishonesty surrounding the signing of the SAA.

Contrary to the company’s claim that the incident is an internal problem between two parties, there is an existing dispute among the landownership over a portion of land called Manakwai.

The company management clarified that they have signed the SAA with 24 tribes in Auluta who are within the prospecting Licence tenement. 

They argued that the incidents reported in the media are often from people outside of their tenement area and are fueled by political motives against the current government of Malaita.

The company management further stated that the project aims to gather data on the presence of minerals, as there have been rumors of diamonds beneath cocoa trees and gold found while digging post holes. 

However, they emphasised the need for actual proof of these claims. 

They also mentioned their efforts to assist the Malaita province and landowners in East Fataleka and East Malaita through additional prospecting licenses, including a one-year Reconnaissance Permit for aerial surveys using drones and an extension of their existing tenement.

The company management argued that the project contributes to the revenues of both the National Government, through tenement fees, and the Malaita Province, which receives $250,000 for the business licence. They emphasised the financial benefits that come with additional licenses and reiterated their commitment to complying with the relevant laws and regulations.

The New Asian Mining Company commenced mineral prospecting in East Malaita in April after being granted a business license worth $250,000 by the New Government for Fundamental Redirection (MNGFR) led by Premier Martin Fini. 

This Provincial business license allows them to conduct prospecting activities on 24 customary lands until the end of March 2024. Moreso, the Prospecting License issued by the National Government is valid for three years accorded to the Mines and Minerals Act 1990.

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