Santa Cruz mining issue

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DEAR EDITOR, it is a pity to learn of an idea initiated by an individual who has now being self-promoted to the Team leader position representing the confused anti-miners on the island of Santa Cruz to take up legal action against the prospecting company concerned. Such an ideology could be very dangerous at times, my friend. It is more or less like you get the wrong pill for the wrong disease or sickness.

To everyone’s surprise, you have not yet come to the knowledge of differentiating prospecting from mining as I had taught you earlier in my previous issue, thus you continue to use the term mining in your controversial baseless response. And you continue to think that the company is a mining company.

Again you should have analysed that the content of my issue was in a neutral perspective. I have been all along a watch dog over the issue since I do come from this very island of Santa Cruz. If the company have been corrupting the legal processes to undermine the required formalities in place, then I would not be hesitant to speak up for my wantoks making sure that no legal processes are violated.

I do as well see the need for development within the island, development in a sustainable manner! This is because on the outset, Temotu Province is one of the least developed province and our contribution to the national economy is by no way match to other provinces in Solomon Islands, though we do have abundant resources including the largest sea area. In terms of human resources, we need to focus more in the education sector in order to increase our participation in the workers’ field rather than allowing the uneducated Cruz folks roam around the city selling Chinese sweets, detergents, carpentry tools and worst still, involving in criminal activities.

Now, to give you some clarity pertaining to the five areas of doubt and misunderstanding which you have rightly confessed and misinformed the readers and the nation at large, that;

The SAA (Surface Access Agreement) is an agreement to carry out prospecting and not mining. To carry out mining, an ML (Mining Licence) is to be obtained in this case, anyway. The signing of the SAA after the 12 days consultation you referred to is within the 6 months period for LOI. There is no minimum time frame provided by our Mining legislations and regulations for the SAA to be achieved.

The SAA can be signed after 59 days or 2 days consultation. As long as the consenters understand and agree with the consultation, the SAA is then executed for prospecting. It is simply a matter of understanding between the parties.

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Consultations have been done appropriately prior MMA in the communities of areas of interest within the tenement. However, your absence during the community consultation programs has deterred your statement as baseless, null and void.

SAAs are standard and are more proper for prospecting after being vetted by the Office of the Attorney General and sent back to the company after approval. The company takes it down to the communities during the consultation process. Whatever length of time it takes for the consenters to understand and agree with the consultation, that is when they signed.

Regarding the Prospecting Licence PL 01/16 which you have wrongly emphasised on, I urge you to do a research of your own or conduct a fact finding mission so you have enough facts about the legal process involved in acquiring a PL. The PL was prepared after the LOI and SAA was successfully executed. The PL can be submitted on earlier dates while awaiting minister’s approval and signature which might take a month or more. Simply, a PL is granted after the LOI is executed and with no exception, all companies have to comply with the MMA.

Lastly but not the least, a PL tenement can cover at least a maximum area of 500sq.km. This whole tenement cannot be consented at just one time. Most companies, execute their SAA on areas of geological interest within their tenement and were granted with PL. Other areas within the tenement can be consented when the company is ready to carry out prospecting on. This simply means that in any new areas within the tenement, the company has to consent and sign up all the rightful landowners before entering their area to carry out prospecting, even though they already have a PL over the land.

Finally, regarding Ocean Watch, blog posted by Chris Bone on Sunday 17th December 2017 this speaks of a co-relation existence! What a shame indeed that an international organization, Oceanwatch, threatened another foreign investor from encouraging development in our communities and country as a whole.

A peaceful protest could have been taken instead of threatening violence and causing breach of the peace within our communities. Is provoking criminal activities also an objective of your organisation? I’m sure our local authorities will deal this matter in the most very near future. Please be aware of this! Awi

JIM KHALIR

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