Reports of heavy duty mining vehicles arriving on our shores
IS the environmentally hazardous bauxite mining ready to roll in the Solomon Islands?
This was the question most lingering in many people’s lips following reports of number of heavy duty vehicles intended for mining exercises on Rennell Island, Renbel province arriving on our shores the previous week.
However to whom do these vehicles belong? And is their arrival a sign of the government giving companies the green light to carry out mining exercises rather than exercising their granted prospecting license?
Reports reaching this paper claimed that a majority of the vehicles that have arrived and awaiting clearance are owned by Indonesian mining company, The Bingtang mining company who are understood to be under a two year prospecting license agreement.
“The vehicles are owned by The Bingtang mining company and are awaiting clearance before shipped down to Rennell to start of both prospecting and mining exercises,” a source informed this paper.
Solomon Star understands that along with The Bingtang mining company, other companies also interested in bauxite mining on Rennell include; Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID), Solomon Mining and Solomon Bauxite.
Meanwhile the ongoing roar not only between The Bingtang mining company, but also others and landowners have continued, mostly after landowners claimed to have been bribed into agreeing their areas to be prospected and mined.
“All I was told was that if I signed the document given to me, I would be given $200 and that my community would benefit immensely from it.
“That has yet to be the case as all of a sudden our names and areas are being included in a list of places the company would prospect and possibly mine,” a landowner said.
Also others fear that if mining operations and exercises are carried out in the province, then Rennell will lose much of the landmass that makes up the province.
“Rennell is not at all a big island, and if bauxite mining takes place, we will not have our land back as such mining involve digging up our soil, breaking down the very little land that we now call home,” another said.
Rennell Island has a land area of 660 square kilometers (250 sq mi) that is about 80 kilometers (50 mi) long and 14 kilometers (8.7 mi) wide. It is the second largest raised coral atoll in the world with the largest lake in the insular Pacific (Lake Tegano) that is listed as a World Heritage Site.
With an estimated population over 1840 people the province lies 236 kilometers (147 mi) south of Honiara.
By JEREMY INIFIRI