Atori landowners make another bold stand against mining company landing at their seafront
BY SAMIE WAIKORI
Atori landowners in East Malaita are once again making a stand to block a mining company’s machineries from landing on their shores.
Following a successful stand by Atori landowners early last month, the New Asia Mining Company has reportedly used a different tactic, which is to try and land their machineries few at a time and using passenger ships instead of its landing crafts.
As of yesterday evening, Atori landowners, having heard of this plan by the company, gathered at the seafront waiting for the company machineries.
MPA for ward 16, Preston Billy Faarobo, whose ward includes Atori, said they stand united not to allow any mining machineries to land at Atori.
Mr Faarobo said they had received reports that MV Gulatatae was heading to Atori with two machines onboard.
The machines, a landcruiser and a dump truck, reportedly belongs to New Asia Mining Company and were to be offloaded at Atori, he said.
“The vessel departed Honiara on Wednesday evening and expected to arrive at Atori today (yesterday) afternoon. Since today (yesterday), we gathered waiting for the vessel to arrive at Atori.
“We all agreed to only one resolution and that is to turn the vehicles back and not to allow them set foot on Atori shore. This is our message and its clear and simple as that.
“Further to that, we the landowners of Atori seafront are united against the mining company to access any of our seafront,” Faarobo said.
Meanwhile, landowners of areas in which the New Asia Mining company is purportedly planning mining operations have said that they are surprised and suspicious with just how fast the company attained a mining licence for their area.
The landowners of interior East Malaita have called on the ministry of Mines to explain to them. They have also made the same call on the company. To date, neither party has responded.
They said prospecting was just done in the first quarter of this year, and the way the process was “so fast that now reaches the operation stage” has dumbfounded them.
The landowners said they willing to partner for development, but only when every process is transparent and inclusive of their terms and conditions.