By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
LITTLE-KNOWN mining company Sunshine Nickel and Sunshine Minerals Ltd is reportedly appealing the Mines and Mineral Board’s recent decision to cancel its prospecting licence.
The appeal is to be lodged with the Minister for Mines and Energy Bradley Tovosia.
But the move has baffled landowners of the area where the company has been earlier granted licence to do prospecting in Isabel province.
The company had earlier obtained its licence from the Minerals board with the support of certain Isabel people.
A committee member of the Taraoa Tribe Association, a group formed by the rightful landowners, Paul Kennedy Sina revealed that Sunshine Nickel and Sunshine Minerals Ltd informed the Mines and Mineral Board about their intention to appeal.
Sina said section 68 (1) of the regulations talked about the decision of the Director of Mines and Minerals and not the Mines and Minerals Board.
This section reads, “Any holder may appeal to the Minister against a decision of the Director on the grounds that is unreasonable, arbitrary or.”
Sina said the Mines and Minerals in its recent board meeting had cancelled the prospecting licence of Sunshine Nickel and Sunshine Minerals Ltd.
“The Sunshine Nickel and Sunshine Minerals Ltd in turn wrote to the Mines and Minerals Board using the 1996 Regulation, saying they will appeal the decision to the Minister of Mines,” he added.
However, Sina said the Regulations only talks about decisions of the director of Mines and Minerals.
He further explained that according to the Mines and Minerals Act, any decision made by the Board can only be appealed in the High Court.
He said according to the Regulation, only if the decision is from the director of Mines and Minerals, can the matter can be taken to the Minister.
“Section 71 subsection 5 of the Mines and Minerals Act is different,” he said.
This section reads, “The holder of a permit, licence or mining lease suspended or cancelled by the Minister may appeal against such decision to the High Court.”
Sina questioned the legality of using the regulations.
He said the Ministry Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification should not entertain any appeal from Sunshine Nickel and Sunshine Minerals Ltd because the Mines and Minerals Board has already made its decision.
“The Ministry of Mines and Minerals regulations 1996 talks about the decision of the director and not the Board.”
Under section 71 of the Act, the Board has the power to deal with the permit and such things.
“In this case, the Board made the decision and not the director.
“How can they use the regulation when it is the board that made the decision and not the director?” Sina questioned.
Meanwhile, Sina said this case is interesting because the lawyer for Sunshine Nickel and Sunshine Minerals Ltd is Rodgers Tovosia, the younger brother of the Minister of Mines Bradley Tovosia.
“Here is a case where the young brother will appeal to his elder brother to over-rule the Mines and Mineral Board’s decision in favour of his client,” Sina said.
“This is what’s going to happen because Sunshine Nickel and Sunshine Minerals Ltd will definitely rely on their lawyer to lodge their appeal,” he added.
“So Rodgers will appeal to Bradley on behalf of his client with the hope the Mines and Mineral Board’s decision will be over-turned.
“Already an issue of conflict of interest exists here.
“I would have expected that Rodgers, being a lawyer, should lodge his client’s appeal to the High Court if they intend to appeal the decision.”
Earlier on, the Taraoa Tribe in Isabel Province have accused the Sunshine Nickel and Sunshine Minerals Ltd of not consulting them for the proposed mine exploration site.
The land owners claimed that the mining director Pawel Misiec, Australian geologist and mining engineers with local team never had dialogue with the recognized landowners of Sivoko.