By AATAI JOHN LAUNGI
Mining operation on some tenements on West Rennell by World Link Mining Company is probably one of the biggest corruption cases in the history of the country that connected with the responsible authorities within the government.
This has come to surface following investigation by the Solomon Star on the acquired blocks of land claimed to be registered and was heavily mined for bauxites.
Prior to mining operation by the company over the said registered lands, a logging company was contracted and felled trees within those areas by the same person who brought the mining company.
Erick Tema, who is currently a councilor representing Tuvaruhu ward in Central Honiara, failed to show up for an interview he promised to give the Solomon Star for this story.
The Solomon Star has given him more than a week to share his side of the story but he did not get back to this paper.
We then went on to obtain information from the Ministry of Lands that confirmed that the land which World Link Mining Company was extracting bauxite was never registered.
We attempted to obtain a certificate of registration from the Ministry of Lands for those two hectares of land indicated as block A and B, where World Link Mining Company used as their tenement.
But we were told there those land World Link Mining was operating were never registered as claimed.
Deputy Commissioner of Lands Bobby Waitara told the Solomon Star recently if the land has a certificate of registration then that confirms that it was registered.
“But if no certificate of registration was issued then that block of land mined by the company was not registered,” Waitara explained.
In such cases, and according to the Mines and Mineral Act, the whole operation was illegal because the company never followed the right processes of land acquisition before it shipped its machines in.
The Office of the Registrar of Titles say they have no records of any Certificate of Registration to prove the land World Link was operating was registered.
Since 2013, logging operation took place at the area claimed to be registered and in 2015 up until this year World Link Mining Company extractedtonnes of bauxites that were shipped overseas.
Despite fights by landowners to save their properties and garden sites, police have turned their back on them for believing that the land were registered.
Chief Lesley Maui of Tautiange Tribe told the Solomon Star their struggle to put an end to the mining was suppressed by authorities on the belief that the land were registered.
A check with the mapping section at the Ministry of Lands further confirmed that Erick Tema’s claim that the land were registered was untrue.
An officer at the Mapping Section said although the land was surveyed, it was never registered.
Hence, the operation of logging and mining on those lands within Tautiange tribe boundary were illegal and those responsible should be held accountable.
A private surveyor who was deployed by Erick Tema to survey the land more than 10 years ago also confirmed to the Solomon Star that they surveyed the land but have no idea about whether it was registered or not.
Questions were sent to the Ministry of Mines via email to clarify their side but they could not respond since Wednesday.
While the Ministry of Lands confirmed that no registration was done on the tenements mined by World Link Mining Company and its associates.
Landowners who spoke to the Solomon Star said they want justice for the properties damaged by the mining activities and want those responsible be prosecuted.
Chief Maui of Tautiange tribe said he wanted the police to arrest those who are responsible because tribal members have never benefited from the mining operation.
Maui revealed that he and his sons were put to jail by police when they attempted to stop the mining operation.
But he said the case against him was dismissed by the Magistrates Court this year.
“This proves that I am the true landowner of Tautiange, whose land were destroyed by the mining activities.”