Dear Editor – Please allow me space to respond to so many Rennell and Bellona critics in the papers, facebook, radio, phones and text massages concerning logging and prospecting in Rennell.
On the outset, can I please ask critics to refrain from using des-respective languages as “stupid idiot”, “arrogant authority”, “cheap signatures”, etc, etc. We are the government elected by you and if we are stupid then you and your relatives are stupid voters.
The Bauxite deposit in Rennell belongs (by The Mines and Minerals Act) to the people and the Government of Solomon Island.
As such, overseas Mining Companies with interest in Rennell enter Solomon Islands after being accepted by FIB, Immigration, Commerce, Environment, Mines and other national government departments.
The mining company is then given a Letter of Intent (LOI) by MMERE, then sent to the landowners to negotiate for Surface Access Agreement (SAA).
When an SAA is concluded between company and landowners the National Government will again issue a Prospecting License (PL) or a mining lease (ML) to the company.
The people, the learned Renbel elite, chiefs and The World Heritage, must understand that the process of giving prospecting license or mining leases belongs to the national government, the people to give SAA, then back to the national government to approve a PL and an ML. There is no part by law for the province to take part in.
For example, Renbel Province is shocked that MMERE had granted Solomon Maui and APID the MINING LEASE for West Rennell on the directive of the PM office. If landowners dispute the decision a further directive for compulsory acquisition of West Rennell land will be enforced.
Renbel Province has no part in all these except as facilitator by its own choice to try to assist the landowners. The Province had paid and engaged a lawyer for the West Rennell Resource owners Association to challenge the granting of the ML to APID.
Renbel Province is not mandated by law to be in these whole processes. We create ourselves our own rights to bring together the company, the national government and the people.
We wanted to do awareness and to educate the landowners about prospecting and mining, and where possible, help to demarcate land, but the law of the land only allows the director of Mines and the agent/ landowner committee to conduct awareness and educate their own people and to help them get the SAA.
I would therefore ask Renbel people, concerned Rennellese individuals, chiefs and organizations not to criticize the Province but to come and help us help the landowners to make better decisions about prospecting, mining or logging.
The World Heritage program or chamber of commerce or the self acclaimed savvy and affluent should come to the rescue of your own people. Help finance and conduct awareness programs to educate your people “not to dig up your grand fathers graves”.
If you are a real Rennellese, do help rather than sleeping and calling your local government, names that degrade, humiliate and show disrespect to your elected leaders.
The new mining policy stipulates that an interested mining company, the government and Province, and the true resource owners, must work hand-in-hand as mutual stakeholders through the periods of negotiation, prospecting and even in a mining if that is accepted.
In complying, we as a Province, is trying to become friends of mining companies and the government. We have been inviting resource owners to this friendship. We are never self serving as claimed.
As PS of Renbel Province, I call on all good people of Rennell to please understand the processes and procedures, realize the parts each of us the mining company, government or people must play, and be part of a team. We can all agree to mining or postpone a mining or mutually say no.
Do not create disagreement among our people as it is not healthy when making socio- economic decisions. A divide people can only bring catastrophic consequences on no other than the Resource owners you think you are trying to protect.
The premier, his executive and ddmin do forgive you the critics, as your comments were mere misunderstandings. We look forward to continue to save your needs as a people.
May God bless you and God bless Renbel province.
Agiki Peseika Baiabe
PS, Renbel Province.