Rennell islanders united against miners
CHILDREN on Renbel have joined their elders to oppose any mining activities planned for the province.
Landowners’ spokesman George Tauika, who is also secretary of the Lake Tegano World Heritage Site Association, said no forms of mining will be accepted on their land.
Children, youths, and elders of the province have united to raise their voice following latest reports that a surface access agreement has been signed for a mining company to operate on Rennell island.
But Mr Tauika said the community was never consulted on the proposed undertaking.
“What happened was company representatives and associates lured innocent and ignorant children, women, and old people of the island to sign documents they knew nothing about,” Mr Tauika said.
He said consultations were done secretly and money was used to lure people to offer their support.
“I want to state here that this is corruption and that such practice must be stopped and investigated by authorities.”
Mr Tauika said their land is their livelihood and that money is not everything.
He called on the national government to justify the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) produced by the mining company, which he questioned its legitimacy and independency.
The Solomon Star understands the mining company that completed an EIA report for the area is called Pacific Investment and Development Limited (APID).
This is a joint venture between foreigners and some locals, which is registered here.
The company recently submitted its application for a mining licence to the Ministry of Mines and Energy to extract the minerals on Rennell.
It claimed more than 26 million tonnes of commercially viable bauxite deposits were found there.
Bauxite is a mineral bearing rock named for the region in France where it was first identified. One of the key components of bauxite is aluminum oxides, which can be processed to make aluminum products.
APID said in its application that if granted a mining licence, they will carry out a simple mining method that will be harmless to the environment.
But Mr Tauika said no forms or methods of mining will be accepted on their land.
He said practices employed by mining companies during negotiation stages always resulted in disputes and conflicts between families and communities.
“Why did the government continue to encourage developments but fail to put in place strict guidelines and policies to protect resources owners and their resources?
“Such practices show the government’s lack of concern for the integrity and welfare of its people,” Mr Tauika said
He said the way in which negotiations and consultation of these developments have taken place will result in bigger problems for the people of Renbel and the country.
He added their association will continue to fight against unsustainable developments to protect the World Heritage Ste and his people’s resources.
Solomon Star understands the association has already secured funds for conservation efforts at Mr Tauika said they prefer small sustainable economic activities than large scale destructive developments.
By DANIEL NAMOSUAIA