By Alfred Sasako
WEST Rennell landowners have rejected outright calls by their Member of Parliament to stop bauxite mining on the island, saying his call “has no grounds to base his argument on”.
In a statement issued last night, the landowners said they had sighted two articles attributed to their MP calling for the mining operations to stop.
But they said they had rejected the call for a number of reasons including:
- The argument on the process of the mining in Rennell under APID and its contractor BMSI and the mining in Rennell has already begun in 2014 and was suspended in 2015 due to the argument between APID and Bintan Borneo.
- It (has) not died its natural cause as mentioned by the Renbel MP in his article that was published on April 23, 2018. The matter was referred to the High Court of Solomon Islands and it was ruled in favour of APID in 2016, the statement said.
- The mining operation then resumed normal in 2016 starting with the removal of the stockpile in Ward 3 and continued on with the full operation with the support from the Ward 3 landowners who voluntarily consented their land for mining.
- The call from the Renbel MP is not accepted by the Rennell landowners as it has no grounds to base his argument on. He just highlighted his insistence with the Prime Minister to stop the mining in Rennell and his refusal to listen to his colleagues, namely the Minister of Planning and Minister of Mines,” the landowners said in the statement.
- He also highlighted the court case that was taken up by a taskforce formed by some of the West Rennell landowners but the case was weakened due to the fact that most landowners in the taskforce have withdrawn their support for the case and consented their land for mining.
- The very sad thing about the call from the Renbel MP to stop the mining in Rennell is that he should be appreciating the sacrifice from landowners who offered their lands for mining to contribute to the economy of this country to pay for his entitlements as an MP and the grants he is receiving from the National Government. In addition, the very reason why Renbel Constituency qualifies to be allocated with a large amount of money to purchase the marine vessel that was named Avaikimaine was because of the logging and mining operations in Rennell.
- There (are) no secrets about the government’s decision not to cancel the lease as stated by the Renbel MP. The country needs foreign exchange to strengthen its economy and this could be made possible by having more exports. The country’s economy has been depending on the exports of round logs and it is now winding down and the gap needs to be filled in order to prevent the country from being declared bankrupt.
- The so-called public who backed the Renbel MP’s call to revisit Rennell mining is in question as most landowners in West Rennell have consented their lands for mining.
- Most landowners in Wards 3, 4, 5 & 6 in West Rennell have signed agreements with the mining company to venture into mining. Only a handful is yet to sign up for mining due to land issues that need to be sorted out first before entering into any agreement with the company.