Bintan Mining SI Ltd operation on west Rennell gets gov’t approval
BY ALFRED SASAKO
BINTAN Mining (SI) Ltd has received the “thumbs up” for the way it conducts mining operations on West Rennell as well as the on-going community support the company provides to landowners.
The “clean bill of health” given by a team of five senior government ministers as well as senior public servants who toured Bintan Mining (SI) Ltd’s site operations on West Rennell two weeks ago, now isolates the Renbel MP and Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr Kaitu’u Agikimua who has publicly opposed mining on Rennell.
Despite his opposition, published documents show Dr Agikimua has co-signed an agreement giving Bintan Mining (SI) Ltd the approval to mine his land.
The one-day tour was led by the Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, Hon Bradley Tovosia.
He was accompanied by other ministers including the Minister for Environment and Conservation, Hon Dr Culwick Togamana MP as well as the Director of Environment Joe Horokou.
Known for his strong and strict adherence to internationally accepted standards on environmental matters, Dr Culwick is reportedly “pleased” with what he saw on the ground.
“He thinks that Bintan Mining (SI) Ltd is exemplary in its mining operations in terms of providing the necessary infrastructure to support its operations on West Rennell,” Dr Culwick was reported to have told the management of the company.
The cost of the visit to Rennell two weeks ago was borne by the Solomon Islands Government.
The Government’s position has isolated Dr Agikimua who was accused by his own people of being “two faced” over the mining operations in West Rennell.
Published documents show that Dr Agikimua co-signed an agreement which allows Bintan Mining (SI) Ltd to mine his land despite maintaining his public opposition to mining operations in West Rennell.
Observers said the timing of Dr Agikimua’s position could prove fatal for his re-election efforts in next year’s National General Election.
“The Renbel MP has committed the cardinal sin of miscalculating the potential consequences for his position, which could prove untenable in terms of his re-election.
“How can you go against the very people who are benefitting from the mining operations and expect to win their favours at the poll? Dr Agikimua knows very well that he has mistimed his position,” an observer told Island Sun.