The Renbel provincial government is opening a court case against the Government through the Ministry of Mines and Energy, over a decision to issue a mining licence to Asia Pacific Investment and Development (APID).
Provincial Secretary (PS) of Renbel province is challenging the decision and will today take the outgoing Minister, Director and Permanent Secretary (PS) to court for issuing the mining licence without approval of mines and mineral board.
The PS, Baiabe Peseika, in an interview with the Solomon Star yesterday confirmed that he is challenging the decision.
The move comes as the company successfully conducted its ground breaking ceremony at Tingoga, Renbel’s provincial capital on Friday.
Mr Peseika said last week’s ceremony was to kick off mining activities on the island.
But the PS claimed that at no time did the mines and energy board considered and approved any mining licence to APID and therefore he said; “I’m challenging the process in which the mining licence was granted to them (APID).
“I have attended eight board meetings and never at any time was APID being granted a mining licence to start off mining activities on Rennell.”
He said despite the ground breaking ceremony last Friday, he is taking the government, through the ministry to task.
“Tomorrow (today) I would open a court case against Minister of Mines and Energy, the director and PS to tell the Renbel province who issued a mining licence to APID,” Mr Peseika said.
He said according to the mines and mines board Act, only the board has the power to grant any mining licence to a mining firm and not the Minister, director or the PS.
“They have no power to issue any mining licence to any mining firm.”
Mr Peseika claimed that someone within the ministry must have issued the licence without the knowledge of the board.
“I think someone within the ministry who has the power to do so has granted APID the mining licence without the board’s approval and provincial government’s consent.”
Mr Peseika, who is now in charge of the Renbel provincial government, since the suspension of the entire provincial assembly, recently said Renbel provincial government would never grant APID any operational licence to operate on Rennel.
“I would like to tell APID that my government would not grant you any operational licence, not until the government reveal to us who issue you (APID) the license,” Mr Peseika said.
Mr Peseika yesterday urged APID to stop any operations on the island while the provincial government attempts to sort out the matter in court.
APID is planning to mine bauxite on the island.
Attempts to get comments from the ministry yesterday were unsuccessful.
By DENVER NEWTER